By William L. Beltran
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Nov.10 (PIA) -- A total of 77 personalities involved in supporting the National People’s Army (NPA) officially surrendered to the folds of the government on Wednesday.
This is one of the biggest mass surrenders ever to take place in a single day in Central Luzon.
“The whole of nation approach in ending local communist armed conflict in the country has come across in many localities that we are able to encourage NPA members and supporters to surrender. We do this to attain inclusive peace and development for the country and our people,” Army 7th Infantry Division (7th ID) Commander Major General Lenard T. Agustin said.
Of the 77 rebel-returnees, 53 came from different NPA-organized supporters in Carranglan, Nueva Ecija and 24 were from San Luis, Aurora.
Surrenderees came from the following NPA underground affiliates: Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad; Yunit Milisyang Bayan; Pambansang Katipunan ng Magbubukid sa Pilipinas; Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan; Kabataang Makabayan of Sitios Lising and Pandayan; and Komiteng Larangang Gerilya Sierra Madre.
The mass surrender was a result of the concerted efforts of the 91st Infantry Battalion (91st IB), 84th Infantry Battalion (84th IB), 3rd Civil Military Operations Company and the 7th Civil Military Operations Battalion with the support and assistance of Barangay Task Forces to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in the areas.
91st IB Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Jose Mari F. Torrenueva II, who formally received the surrenderees in San Luis, said they will continue to conduct necessary actions to convince rebels and their supporters to surrender and go back to mainstream society.
“They, too, deserve to live peacefully, and we are giving them the chance to do that,” he said.
Moreover, 84th IB Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Honorato S. Pascual Jr said the 53 former rebels from Carranglan who formally surrendered to him admitted to the useless and pointless cause they were fighting for.
“Gusto na nilang mabuhay nang payapa, at ang paraan lang para magawa nila iyon ay sumuko sila at makipagtulungan sa atin (They want live in peace now, and the only way to do that is for them to cooperate with us),” he shared.
The 7th Infantry Division is currently conducting routine interviews on the surrenderees for processing of their eligibility to available government benefits for former rebels including the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
Some of the rebel returnees were presented to Presidential Peace Adviser and Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security for Central Luzon Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. during a meeting of the Peace, Law Enforcement and Development Support Cluster of the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict held in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga on Friday.
Galvez led the ceremonial handing over of food and non-food packages and cash as immediate assistance to the surrenderees.
“This signifies our pursuit for good governance and response to the challenges and threats posed by the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA as President Rodrigo R. Duterte aspires to have a peaceful Philippines by 2022,” the cabinet official emphasized. (CLJD/WLB-PIA 3)