By Martin Sadongdong
Eight alleged members of the communist group New People’s Army (NPA) have recently surrendered to troops in Regions 4A (Calabarzon) and 4B (Mimaropa) as the national government continues its relentless drive against insurgency, the Philippine Army (PA) disclosed Friday.
Of the eight, three rebel-returnees yielded to elements of the 76th Infantry (Victrix) Battalion (76IB) in Occidental Mindoro while five others surrendered to joint elements of the 202nd Infantry (Unifier) Brigade (22IB) and Police Regional Office 4A in Laguna on Thursday, a statement from the Army said.
Lt. Col. Mario Lito Retirva, commanding officer of the 76IB, identified the three rebel-returnees in Occidental Mindoro only through their aliases. They are Carlo, 19; Jet, 25; and Juliet, 45.
Retirva said Carlo and Jet were both guerilla fighters under Guerilla Front Silangan, Sub- Regional Military Area 4D, Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee (STRPC).
Juliet, on the other hand, was a former medical officer of Kilusang Larangan Guerilla 2 under STRPC operating in Mindoro provinces.
In Laguna, Brig. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr., commander of the 202IB which has jurisdiction in Calabarzon, said the five rebel-returnees are all native of Quezon province.
The identities of the five surrenderers were withheld for security reasons.
Burgos added that they turned over two shotguns.
The eight rebel-returnees told troops they surrendered because of their “frustrations” and “hopelessness” over the “unfulfilled promises” of their NPA leaders.
“Pinangakuan kami ng Hukbo ng sustento sa pamilya o ‘SUPAMIL’ na P3,000 at isang sako ng bigas kada anim na buwan na paglilingkod sa kilusan pero lahat ng iyon ay panghikayat lang pala. Binigyan kami sa unang buwan pero hindi na nasundan (The group promised to give us P3,000 as financial aid for our families or ‘SUPAMIL’ and a sack of rice for every six months of rendering service to them but all of it are just empty promises. They fulfilled it during the first month but it has since been stopped),” said the native surrenderers from Mindoro.
Since then, the rebels shared they had to beg for food from the residents in the village. When no one would give them, they had no choice but to eat bananas and sweet potatoes.
Maj. Gen. Rhoderick Parayno, commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry (Jungle Fighter) Division (2ID) lauded the efforts of the troops against the NPA group in the area.
He said the 2ID localized peace talks with the NPA group and the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) of the government are gaining more surrenderers in Calabarzon .
“We are winning the campaign and the NPAs are fastly losing people’s support. We will sustain our gains until they are defeated the soonest possible time,” he said.
“Rest assured that NPAs who desire to surrender will be processed to avail the E-CLIP,” he added.
Under the E-CLIP, the Army said a rebel who chooses to surrender shall receive financial assistance for a new livelihood.
They shall also gain access to housing, loan, medical and legal assistance, and educational benefits which can be extended to the rebel’s immediate family members.