By Francis Wakefield
The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Tuesday said that in the first two months of 2019, there were already a total of 608 Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) members and supporters who have surrendered to government troops.
Col. Noel Detoyato, the Chief of the Public Affairs Office, said of the 608 CPP-NPA members that have surrendered, 107 of them were regular armed members, 137 are Milisyang Bayan, and 364 are mass supporters.
Just last Sunday, March 3, 2019, a certain Jobert Buenaflor alias Toto voluntarily surrendered to the troops of the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion, in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat. He also revealed an arms cache located in Tulunan, Cotabato where the 39th IB troops recovered an M60 machine gun; a Garand rifle; an M16 rifle; and four barrels of M14 rifles.
Alias Toto said in the initial interview facilitated by the 39th IB that he surrendered due to starvation and fear of the intensified operations done by the military.
Moreover, a total of 25 NPA members who used to operate in Negros Occidental surrendered to the 23rd Infantry Battalion on Saturday, March 2, 2019. The surrenderees turned over three M16 rifles; an M14 rifle; four Garand rifles; 12 Cal .45 pistols; a Cal .22 with scope; four 12 gauge shotguns; and two 9mm Uzis.
Detoyato also attributed the surrender to the Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) of the government which is still in full swing to ensure that former members of the CPP-NPA will have a holistic package of benefits that they can avail of such as, but not limited to, livelihood assistance, medical assistance, education, housing, and legal assistance.
“We hope that more members of this group realize that they are fighting for a lost cause, and we call on those remaining members to avail of the E-CLIP and come back to their families to live a free and peaceful life away from violence,” Detoyato said.
Detoyato said the reintegration assistance is in support of the receiving unit to which the rebels surrendered. These units spend money for the former rebels’ daily meals, mobility, identification cards, papers, and other basic expenses.
The AFP, he said, also helps provide protection to hundreds of E-CLIP beneficiaries from their former cadres who might hurt them and deprive them of this opportunity to be with the mainstream society again.
“These actions manifest the sincerity and the desire of the government to eradicate communist terrorism through peaceful means,” Detoyato said.
“We hope to receive more rebels who want to return to the folds of the law rather than the casualties we record daily in the bloody battlefield,” he added.