DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 March) – A leader of the Milisya ng Bayan of the New People’s Army (NPA) and his 12 followers operating in Compostela Valley surrendered to the 1001st Infantry Brigade at Sitio Logpaton, Brgy. Kingking, Pantukan, this province around 10 a.m. on Saturday.
A military press statement said the first to surrender were Militia ng Bayan commanding officer Roberto Hiyan and four others identified only as Bebiano, Remno, Benigno, and Isagani.
The military recovered firearms including one M60 general purpose machine gun, two M16 A1 Armalite rifles, two rocket propelled grenade launchers, one small improvised explosive device with detonator, blasting cap and battery.
One commercial high frequency radio with charger and voluminous documents were also recovered.
After learning that their leader and fellow combatants surrendered, eight other members and their families reportedly submitted themselves to the military.
The military did not disclose the identities of the other surrenderees for security reasons.
In a text message to MindaNews on Sunday, Capt. Rhyan Batchar, 10th Infantry Division chief of Division Public Affairs Office, said the Milisya ng Bayan members were organized and trained by the NPAs as “force multipliers.”
“They are are capable of conducting IED (improvised explosive device) attacks, sniping, harassment, and espionage against government forces operating within controlled areas. We are still hoping that other members of the MB will follow what their comrades did,” he said.
The 10th ID coordinated with the provincial government of Compostela Valley and municipal government of Pantukan for the return of the surrenderees to the community.
The military statement said the former rebels underwent medical assessment and initial counseling, and received food packs.
“Their return was the result of our intensified operation and our sincere intention to assist them in joining the mainstream society. We facilitated their immediate evacuation due to the hardships, misery and threats from the armed lawless group. They chose to trust us and they realized that peace and development is the solution. We further encourage the other members of the armed lawless group to abandon the armed struggle and return to the folds of law,” said 1001st Brigade commander Col. Macairog Alberto. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)