THIRTEEN members of the New People's Army (NPA) voluntarily surrendered following the joint efforts of the authorities in Agusan del Sur.
The Philippine Army's 26th Infantry Battalion (26IB) identified 12 of the 13 former rebels as members of the Guerilla Front 88 of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee and the other one as a member of the Guerilla Front 8 of the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee.
The 13 former rebels surrendered to the troops on March 15.
They yielded 13 firearms composed of two M16A1, two carbine rifles, two homemade shotguns, one KG9, one UZI Cobray, three caliber .45, one caliber .38 and one caliber .35 revolver including assorted ammunition, magazines, and other war materials.
According to the former rebels, their bad experiences and hardships while in the rank of the NPA as well as the fear of being pursued by the military troops fueled them to surrender.
"Dako ang akong pasalamat sa 26IB tunog kay gihatagan ako ug dakong kahigayonan diin ako magbag-o sa akong kaugalingon aron diin mahatagan ug maayong kaugmaon usab ang akong pamilya," alias Jamil, one of the 13 former rebels who served under NPA for five years, said.
"Akong pagdasig sa akong mga kaubanan nga anaa sa kabukiran nga naog na kamo ug surrender kay sama namo mahatagan usab kamo ug higayon aronmagpuyo nga malinawon uban inyong mga mahal sa kinabuhi," he added.
Commanding Officer of 26IB Lieutenant Colonel Reynald Romel Goce, for his part, applauded the latest surrenderers for their courage and eagerness in turning back to the folds of the law.
Goce also reminded the public, especially those living in conflict-affected areas, to be more cautious and vigilant because it is believed that the armed group will conduct terrorism-related activities for their upcoming anniversary.
The NPA will be celebrating its founding anniversary on March 29.
"The 26IB will always support peace agreement for those who are willing to go back to the mainstream society but if you resist and continue terrorizing our countrymen, we will not hesitate to use our full capability to pin down each and every one of you," Goce said.
"The five decades of armed struggle have brought senseless death and miseries to hundreds of thousands of our countrymen. We are offering the rebels a way out, to surrender and start a new. Let us work together to attain peace and preserve our country for the upcoming generations," he added.