17 rebels surrender with firearms in Masbate
By Connie Calipay / Philippine News Agency
LEGAZPI CITY – A total of 17 more New People's Army (NPA) rebels operating in Masbate province have surrendered to the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Army (PA) in Aroroy, Masbate.
In a statement on Sunday, Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo, Police Regional Office (PRO) 5 (Bicol) regional director, said those who surrendered on Friday were from the Platoon 3, Larangan 1, Komite ng Probinsya 4 of the Militia ng Bayan that is operating in the southern part of the province.
"The 17 NPA members surrendered during the Situational Awareness and Knowledge Management (SAKM) in Barangay Balete and Barangay Concepcion sa (in) Aroroy, Masbate. The success is through the efforts of PNP and PA that encourage the members of the terrorist group to return to the fold of the law and accept the benefits given by the government for them to start a new life," Estomo said.
He said SAKM is an initiative of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) that aims to educate the communities about the ideology and selfish and unjust acts of the NPA that violate human rights.
The group of surrenderers also turned in several handguns and a KG9 submachine gun.
They will undergo debriefing and will receive government aid through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integrated Program (ECLIP) that will help them start a new life together with their families.
"Buong puso ang aming pagtanggap at pasasalamat sa ating mga kapatid na minsan ng nalihis ng landas at ngayo'y handang handa ng harapin ang kanilang kinabukasang mas tahimik at may direksyon. Ang inyong pagsuko ay patunay ng inyong pakikiisa sa ating pamahalaan na makamit ang ating mithiing abutin ang tahimik at mas maunlad na komunidad. Ang PNP Bicol kasama ang kasundaluhan ay titiyakin naming sabay sabay nating haharapin ang pag-usad patungo sa panibagong bukas na mas tahimik at mapayapa. Walang imposible sa ating pagkakaisa, sama-sama nating tuldukan ang insurhensya sa ating rehiyon. (We wholeheartedly welcome our brothers who used to be on a wayward path and are now ready to face their life in peace and a straight direction. Your surrender is proof of your unity with the government to attain a peaceful and progressive community. The PNP Bicol together with our soldiers, assure you that we are together in moving forward toward a new peaceful future. Nothing is impossible in our unity, let's all be together in ending the insurgency in our region)," Estomo said.
The NPA, along with the Communist Party of the Philippines, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)