8 more rebels surrender in Masbate
By Connie Calipay / Philippine News Agency
LEGAZPI CITY – Motivated by their trust and confidence in government troops who are persistent in their call for communist terrorist group (CTG) members to return to the fold of the law, a new batch of CTG members and supporter has withdrawn their membership and patronage from the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Palanas, Masbate.
In a statement on Friday, Capt. John Paul Belleza, 9th Infantry Division (9ID) spokesperson, said seven members of the NPA's "Militia ng Bayan" and one supporter voluntarily surrendered to the combined operatives of the Army and police in the province last Wednesday.
“Also turned in by the group were eight low-powered firearms, such as two caliber .45 pistols, three caliber. 357 revolvers and three caliber .38 revolvers," he said.
Belleza, citing a statement from one of the surrenderers, said "the testimonies of their former comrades who chose the path of peace, helped them realize that the soldiers and police do no harm to the CTG members and supporters who yield to the government, unlike the fabricated stories the CTG leaders inculcated in their minds."
Lt. Col. Siegfried Felipe Awichen, commander of the 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB), said the surrenderers, who are now undergoing the enrollment process for the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), are assisted by the troops.
He also said government troops will not relent on their goal to achieve peace in Masbate by going after CTG members who continue to intimidate and sow chaos in Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAs).
For his part, Col. Aldwine Almase, commander of the 903rd Infantry Brigade, said what urged these former rebels (FRs) to go down the mountains were the hardships and dangers they could no longer endure. "Dahil mas pinaigting natin ang kampanya laban sa terorismo kung kaya nawalan na ng lugar na mapagtataguan ang mga komunistang teroristang ito. (Because we intensified our campaign against terrorism, they have no more place to hide)," he said.
"This exposed them to extreme danger while suffering from hunger and exhaustion which along with the government's peace programs and initiatives led to the continuing influx of surrenderers," Almase added.
On the other hand, Maj. Gen. Henry Robinson Jr., commander of Joint Task Force Bicolandia, recognized the passion of the military and police to contribute significantly in the government's thrust to make Bicol a more peaceful and progressive region.
"Hanggang sa maaari, ayaw nating may namamatay na miyembro ng CTG sa mga engkwentro. Kaya kasabay ng ating pinaigting at pinalawak na security operations ay walang humpay din ang ating panawagan sa kanila na sumuko na lang. (As much as we want, no lives of CTGs were killed during the encounter, that's why we always asked them to surrender.) Their lives, just like anyone else, are precious and we are happier to see them alive, enjoying the gift of peace with their loved ones. To our brothers in the mountains, there is no point in delaying your surrender. Walang benipisyo sa kilusan pero sa gobyerno, napakarami: cash, livelihood, educational, housing, and medical assistance as well as firearm remuneration.. yan ang naghihintay sa inyo. (No benefits in the movement, while in the government, there is cash, livelihood, educational, housing and medical assistance as well as firearm remuneration that await you),” Robinson said.
In the first week of May, 23 CTG members have also surrendered in Masbate, bringing with them high and low-powered firearms.
This is aside from the recent successful operations of the troops which only reflect the government's triumphs against communist insurgency in the province while at the same time gaining the all-out support of the Masbateños.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)