By Edwin Fernandez
CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao: Some 13 more New People’s Army (NPA) surrenderers took their “new chance” in life after yielding to authorities in Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat province, the Army here reported Thursday.
A leader of the surrendering batch, who requested to be identified only as “Ka Benny” for security reasons, said members of the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in Sultan Kudarat have continued to decline as more communist combatants are denouncing their futile cause.
“The communist movement in the province has become non-essential. More of us are disgusted as we, in the first place were duped into joining the group,” he said in the vernacular over a phone interview in this camp Thursday.
Ka Benny is a mass organizer for the Sub-Regional Command (SRC) – Daguma under Far South Mindanao Region since 2015.
“We are taking this new chance in life,” he said.
Ka Benny’s group surrendered Wednesday afternoon to the Army’s 37th Infantry Battalion (IB) headquarters in Kalamansig town.
The group also turned over six firearms and other war materiel.
Colonel Eduardo Gubat, the Army’s 603rd Infantry Brigade commander whose unit has jurisdiction over the 37IB area of responsibility, welcomed the former NPA guerillas and told them they made the right decision.
“Their surrender is a huge setback to the NPAs in Sultan Kudarat, which is an indication that the stronghold of the communist terrorist group is continuously weakening in the province,” Gubat said.
Kalamansig Municipal Administrator Maria Socorro Lanto, who helped the Army in welcoming the former rebels, extended immediate cash and livelihood assistance from Sultan Kudarat Governor Suharto Teng T. Mangudadatu and Kalamansig Mayor Rolando Garcia.
Lanto said the former rebels would stay in the halfway house provided by the provincial government wherein the surrenderers will undergo reorientation and processing to be included in the national assistance and livelihood initiatives of the government under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.
The group’s surrender came two days after 21 NPA rebels also yielded to the Army in Lebak town of the same province.
Major Gen. Juvymax Uy, Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander, lauded the 603Bde and 37IB for a job well done.
Uy said since January this year, the total number of NPA surrenderers rose to 73 with 66 firearms and explosives also turned over by the former militants.
“This mass surrender of NPAs is a clear manifestation that the organization is dwindling and on the brink of defeat,” Uy said, as he urged other rebels who are still in the mountains to follow suit.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
Philippine News Agency