GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 5 Dec) – Four more members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in South Cotabato province have surrendered to local government and police personnel following a series of negotiations, a police official said on Thursday.
Col. Jemuel Siason, South Cotabato police director, said the rebels yielded along with three high-powered firearms late Tuesday afternoon in a village in Lake Sebu town.
He said the surrenderers were fetched by a team from the South Cotabato Police Provincial Office and the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office and brought to Koronadal City.
The four underwent initial verification on Wednesday in coordination with the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion, he said.
Siason said the returnees were former members of Platoon Samsung of the NPA’s Guerilla Front 73 and operated in the hinterlands of Lake Sebu and neighboring localities in Sultan Kudarat province.
They surrendered a homemade M-79 grenade launcher, M14 rifle with 10 live ammunition and a Winchester Garand rifle with seven live bullets reportedly issued by their unit.
“They were long time members of the NPA and one of them was recruited back in 2006,” Siason told reporters.
The police official said the four wanted to surrender for quite some time already but were just waiting for the right timing due to safety and security concerns.
He said they eventually sent surrender feelers and negotiated with them through village officials.
Siason said the four rebels decided to surrender mainly due to their difficult situation in the mountains as they were reportedly always on the move to avoid military operations.
He said they were encouraged by the efforts of South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. and other government agencies under the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict to address the needs of their communities.
“They saw how things have improved in their villages, especially when they came to Koronadal City for the first time. They realized that there’s no more reason for them to fight in the mountains,” the police official said, citing statements from the surrenderers.
Siason said they also wanted to take advantage of the promised livelihood assistance and other benefits being offered by the government under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP.
He added that the returnees will undergo further validation and profiling for their inclusion into the E-CLIP.
Last month, at least 24 NPA rebels from parts of the province surrendered to police and military units and availed of the government’s reintegration program.
Nineteen of the surrenderers, who were all previously under the NPA’s Front 73, yielded to the Police Regional Office-12 and the five others to the 27IB. (MindaNews)