GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 24 July) – Three more alleged members of a New People’s Army (NPA) unit operating in the hinterlands of Sarangani and Davao Occidental provinces surrendered on Wednesday to government troops in the area.
Capt. Rey Balibagoso, spokesperson of the Army’s 1002nd Brigade, said Thursday the rebels yielded to members of the peace and development team of the 73rd Infantry Battalion (IB) during an outreach activity in Barangay Tamban in Malungon, Sarangani.
He said the three, whose identities were withheld for security reasons, gave up an M-16 Armalite rifle with a magazine and 27 bullet rounds that was reportedly issued by the rebel group.
“They came forward during a peace building seminar being conducted by our troops and signified to surrender,” he said in a radio interview.
Baligoso said the 73IB, led by its commanding officer Lt. Col. Patricio Ruben Amata, and local government officials present during the activity immediately processed the surrender of the three rebels.
During their debriefing, the official said the surrenderees claimed to be members of the Platoon 2 of the NPA’s Front 75.
He said the three, who came from the B’laan tribe, were earlier recruited by the NPA to become a part of its “yunit militia” in the area.
The rebel unit had reportedly participated in NPA operations in the past months in the mountainous boundaries of Malungon, Sarangani and Malita in Davao Occidental.
Balibagoso said the rebels decided to surrender after becoming enlightened with the programs and projects of the local and national governments for the poor and the tribal residents of the area.
He said they will enlist the three surrenderees into the national government’s flagship Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP).
In the last three years, the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the provincial government of Sarangani Province already assisted a total of 379 former NPA rebels through the CLIP.
The former rebels received various livelihood assistance ranging from P5,000 to P50,000 each.
CLIP reintegrates former rebels into the social mainstream and uplifts their socio-economic conditions to enable them to become active partners in the local development.
The program also seeks to contribute towards the achievement of the goal of permanent peaceful closure of all armed conflicts with non-state armed groups.