THE military said Tuesday, April 30, that a New People's Army (NPA) fighter escaped from his group and voluntarily surrendered to authorities.
A certain alias "Marco," 18, a Matigsalog and resident of Lorega, Kitaotao, Bukidnon, turned himself in to the members of the 88th Infantry Battalion (88IB) last Friday, April 26, in Valencia City.
He also yielded his M16 armalite rifle and an M653 baby armalite rifle, rifle magazines loaded with live ammunition and a handheld radio.
In a statement, the military said the localized peace negotiations was initiated by the Indigenous Peoples (IP) leaders of Matigsalog Tribe after the Community Support Team (CST) of 88IB soldiers for their intervention in disseminating President Rodrigo Duterte's Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-Clip) program under Task Force Balik-Loob.
The Army CST is currently doing community works in Valencia City and other villages in Quezon and San Fernando towns.
88IB commander Lieutenant Colonel Franklin Fabic said he is grateful with the partnership of IP leaders and the CST soldiers, as it made the localized peace negotiation possible.
"We shall continue to help our Lumad brothers and perform our mandate of protecting them from terrorist exploitation," Fabic said.
For his part, 403rd Brigade Commander Colonel Edgardo De Leon said there were already 40 NPA combatants and nine members of Milisyang Bayan who laid down their arms and surrender since January.
"Now that we have 60 CSTs deployed to initiate the localized peace talks in partnerships with local peace stakeholders, he is expecting more NPA members defecting to the government," De Leon said.