GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 6 Dec) – Two more New People’s Army (NPA) rebels surrendered on Thursday to government troops in Lake Sebu town, South Cotabato province, the second in the area in two days.
1Lt Efren Halawig, civil military operations officer of the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion, said Friday the rebels decided to yield following negotiations with their troops and local officials.
He identified the surrenderers as alias “Kapitan” and alias “Mowen,” both from Lake Sebu and former members of Platoon West, Guerilla Front 73 or Sub-Regional Committee-Musa of the NPA’s Far South Mindanao Region.
The two each surrendered a unit of AK-47 rifle with ammunition issued by the NPA, Halawig said.
Citing accounts from alias “Kapitan,” Halawig said they decided to surrender due to the difficulties they faced while in the movement and the uncertainty of their cause.
He said they reportedly noticed huge changes in the province’s governance these past months, especially in addressing the needs of local communities and in terms of building a peaceful environment.
“There are many projects for the people such as farm-to-market roads, free education, free health care and other services,” Halawig quoted the rebel returnee as saying.
Lt. Col. Jones Otida, 27IB commanding officer, said he expects that more NPA rebels from Lake Sebu will also yield in the coming months.
He said support from the people of Lake Sebu to the government’s peace initiatives have continued to grain ground since the municipal government declared the NPA last September as persona non grata.
Otida said the resolution unanimously passed by the municipal council shows that the people support the implementation of President’s Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70 or the “whole-of-nation approach” in ending local communist armed conflict.
“That is why we thank the people who have complemented our efforts by adding social pressure for the NPA members to finally surrender,” he added.
The latest surrenderers have brought to six the number of NPA rebels under the Front 73 who yielded in Lake Sebu this week.
Four former rebels under the Platoon Samsung surrendered last Tuesday and laid down three high-powered firearms to personnel from the South Cotabato Police Provincial Office and the provincial government. (MindaNews)