19 NPA members surrender in SouthCot

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 13 November) — At least 19 members of the New People’s Army (NPA) operating in the hinterlands of South Cotabato province have surrendered to police authorities following a series of negotiations.

South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr., who personally received the surrenderers on Wednesday morning, said the rebels separately yielded last week along with at least 17 firearms to the Police Regional Office-12’s intelligence unit (RIU).

The province of South Cotabato. Map courtesy of Google

He said 18 of the surrenderers, mostly indigenous peoples (IPs), were from the municipalities of Banga, Lake Sebu, Surallah, Tupi, Tampakan and Polomolok, and one was from Senator Ninoy Aquino town in Sultan Kudarat.

“(But) they all operated in the province and we’re happy that they chose to surrender here,” Tamayo said in a briefing at the provincial capitol in Koronadal City.

Lt. Col. Christopher Bermudez, RIU-12 chief, said the rebels surrendered in batches of three to five after sending surrender feelers to their unit through several intermediaries.

He said they all operated under the NPA’s Guerilla Front Musa or 73, which is considered as the largest rebel unit in South Cotabato.

“They mainly decided to surrender because they were tired of being always in the run and at the same time facing uncertainty with their cause,” he said.

The rebels surrendered three caliber .38 revolvers, three caliber .45 pistols, two caliber 30 Garand rifles, two caliber 30 Carbine rifles, two unspecified handguns, a 12-gauge shotgun, caliber 22 rifle with scope, caliber 30 M1 Springfield rifle, M16 Armalite rifle, M14 rifle and assorted ammunition, he said.

Bermudez said they also gave up documents and books that were used in the recruitment and indoctrination of children in the upland communities.

The police official said five of the surrenderers served as team leaders of Front 73’s “Yunit Militia,” one was a vice team leader and another served as a member of its “white area committee” as well as lead political organizer for its front organizations.

Tamayo said the provincial government will assist the surrenderers in getting livelihood and other support assistance from the national government, as provided under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

He said they will receive reintegration assistance of P15,000, immediate financial assistance of P20,000 and additional cash assistance of P50,000 from the provincial government and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

The governor said the surrenderers may avail of livelihood financing of at least P100,000 from the Land Bank of the Philippines, housing assistance worth P450,000, firearms remuneration of up to P500,000, livelihood training from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and other interventions from the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

He said some of these were already received by the first batch of 13 former NPA rebels who surrendered to the RIU-12 and the local government last July.

“We’re hoping that through these interventions, more rebels will be encouraged to also surrender and rejoin the mainstream in the coming months,” he added. (MindaNews)