60 rebels yield in Sultan Kudarat; CPP spurns local peace talks

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/03 November) — The number of New People’s Army rebels who surrendered in Sultan Kudarat province has reached 60, a military official said.

Colonel Harold Cabunoc, commander of the 33rd Infantry Battalion, said the latest batch surrendered on Thursday and belonged to the NPA’s Platoon Cloudfone led by Ka Jimboy and Ka Bobby.

They surrendered with them two M-16 rifles and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

“We were very tired and hungry after months of evading the patrolling troops in the forests of Sultan Kudarat,” Ka Jimboy said in a video taken during the surrender ceremony.

Cabunoc said the former rebels cited poor government action, land grabbing and lack of livelihood opportunities as among the issues they wanted to bring to the attention of government.

“Hearing it from them personally (via) a face-to-face conversation, I took the efforts to bring the message to the right government institutions and make actions on it,” he said.

NPA members surrender to the military in Barangay Kuden, Senator Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat on Thursday (November 2, 2017). Photo courtesy of 33rd Infantry Battalion

He said he brought the surrenderers’ cudgel to Governor Pax Mangudadatu, and the provincial government government responded by sending engineering personnel to build infrastructures in communities supporting the former rebels.

The NPA in South Central Mindanao has not yet issued a statement regarding members laying down arms.

Meanwhile, in a statement Thursday, the Communist Party of the Philippines said it is rejecting the local peace negotiations being pushed by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

The CPP said the local peace talks “will surely fail in its aim of dividing the revolutionary forces waging a nationwide people’s war. The Duterte regime is wasting time and the people’s money in setting-up these useless local peace committees which will go nowhere and achieve nothing.”

“These are mere rehashes of worn-out psywar surrender programs such as the “balik-baril program” and the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) riding on the popular clamor for peace talks,” it said.

It added that the CPP and NPA support the National Democratic Front “in its representation of all revolutionary forces in negotiations with the GRP with the aim of forging agreements to settle the outstanding socio-economic and political questions that compel the people to wage armed struggle.”

The only time that the NDF agreed to local peace talks was during the time of President Corazon C. Aquino. (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)