AMID the government’s intensified campaign against communist insurgency, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said 28 leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)- New People’s Army (NPA) have surrendered since January.

More than half, or 17, of the surrenderers came from the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), said AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Bienvenido Datuin.

Meanwhile, the military said a total of 51 encampments of communist terrorists were seized and cleared by government troops from January to March.

It said 38 of the seized encampments were in the Eastern Mindanao, two in Western Mindanao, seven in Visayas and four in Luzon.

The most recent surrenderer was Edwin Coquilla, allegedly a former squad leader of a platoon of the NPA’s Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee. He yielded to troops of the Philippine Army’s 36th Infantry Battalion in Tago, Surigao del Sur and turned over nine improvised explosive devices.

The AFP said the most prominent surrender in January was that of Noel Legazpi, alleged deputy secretary of the Far South Mindanao Region (FSMR), and his wife Jeanalyn Bendalian, former medical officer of FSMR. They both surrendered to members of the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion in South Cotabato on January 15.

Other surrenderers were Geraldo Baro, a former vice commander of guerrilla front (GF) 27 in Compostella Valley, Beong Dalumatan, a former sub-commander of GF 72 based in Sultan Kudarat, as well as Alvie Marie Cominador, Randy Atong and Rene Atienza, all officials of the GF 51 in Davao del Sur.

On rebel encampments, the military cited among the notable discoveries the alleged CPP-NPA encampment in the hinterland of Laak-San Isidro complex in Compostela Valley, which could accommodate around 30 rebels, on March 12 and the NPA encampment in Boston, Davao Oriental on March 2 which reportedly housed at least 20 communist terrorists.

With the termination of the peace talks, President Rodrigo Duterte has urged the NPA rebels to surrender. He promised to provide them and their families with housing and decent jobs.

Recently, the AFP welcomed over 600 NPA rebel returnees during their tour in Metro Manila from the Mindanao region. They also visited Malacanang and had dinner with Duterte. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo/SunStar Philippines)