SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 23 January) – Another member of the New People’s Army surrendered Monday in Surigao del Norte, an Army official said.
Identified only as Ka Ted of the NPAs Front 16, the alleged rebel brought along an M16 rifle and several ammunition, 2Lt Jonel Castillo, 30th Infantry Battalion spokesperson said.
Castillo quoted the surrenderer as saying he could no longer take the NPA’s “terroristic activities” and “unending extortion”.
In December last year, President Rodrigo Duterte issued a proclamation tagging the NPA and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) as “terrorist organizations”. Earlier, he had called off peace talks with the National Democratic Front, citing as basis the wave of offensives launched by the rebel group.
Another alleged rebel identified as Ka Jun surrendered Sunday to the 30IB in Alegria town, Surigao del Norte.
“There are many benefits from our government awaiting our returnees. At this moment, they should realize how we want peace for them. We want their families and loved ones to have them. Last Sunday, alias Jun surrendered and yesterday, alias Ted. It is a sign that many of them wanted to go down and lay their arms in order to live a peaceful life,” Lt Col Allen Tomas, commanding officer of the 30 Infantry Battalion said Tuesday.
“Once again, to those who are still with the terrorist organization, it is not yet late. The government is open to your return. Assistance and support are waiting if you choose to embrace a peaceful life with your families,” Tomas added.
The said surrenderees are now in the custody of the 30IB.
In a statement Tuesday, the CPP called Duterte’s call for NPA members to surrender in exchange for cash, housing and jobs “pure hogwash”.
The group said the counterinsurgency program Comprehensive Local Integration Program “has served as a source of corruption for AFP generals and ranking officials.”
“Foot soldiers regularly conduct forays in far-flung barrios, round up residents, force them to sign blank documents and later present them as ‘NPA surrenderees.’ These efforts are now being doubled to make it appear that the NPA is weakening, and at the same time, reward AFP field commanders with bureaucratic loot,” it said.
The CPP belittled the surrender of NDF-Far South Mindanao spokesperson Noel Legazpi.
It said that while Legazpi, who surrendered together with his wife on 15 January, admitted to being “tired” of the struggle, “thousands are not.”
“For the hundreds of peasants, Lumads and Moros, joining the struggle is a matter of survival as one reactionary regime after another attack their communities and livelihoods, kill their leaders and loved ones, and commit numerous, unspeakable abuses,” it added. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)