MALAYBALAY, Bukidnon (MindaNews / 5 June) – Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista received the surrender of 54 New People’s Army rebels this morning, the fourth of such surrender since the Fourth Infantry Division started the “Guns for Peace” program last year.
Bautista received the surrender of the rebels, including their firearms – six World War II vintage firearms and 25 shotguns – at Camp Osito D. Bahian, headquarters of the 403rd Infantry Brigade in Barangay Impalambong here Wednesday morning.
The AFP Chief of Staff was on the way to Central Mindanao University to attend the Mindanao Social Business Summit when he learned of the surrender and made a quick detour.
Col. Francisco Pabayo, commanding officer of the 403IB, said the rebels were members of the NPA’s Guerilla Front 34 led by a certain Emboy Casal Gayan aka Rixan operating in the tri-boundaries of Agusan, Bukidnon and Davao provinces.
Bautista said the “Guns for Peace” program has made the communist armed rebellion “irrelevant” as the country emerged from being the “sick man of Asia” into one of the emerging developing nations.
Speaking at the Mindanao Social Business Summit, Bautista said they have dismantled the communist insurgency in 42 provinces during the three-year period since the government anti-insurgency program “Oplan Bayanihan” was implemented in 2011.
Bautista said the ragtag communist insurgents are now limited to 14 provinces where they harass business and mining firms from whom they extort revolutionary taxes.
“Insurgency and violence is no longer part of the psyche our nation,” he said.
Since October 31, 2013, More than 209 NPA rebels have surrendered to the military in Bukidnon and Caraga region. They surrendered in three batches and brought in 206 high-powered firearms.