By Mike Crismundo
CAMP JAIME FERRER, Bislig City – Government forces are penetrating and closing in on the lairs of communist terrorists.
Capt. Regie H. Go of the Public Affairs Office (PAO) officer of the Army’s Northeastern and Northern Mindanao 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division (4th ID) cited the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Community Support Programs (CSPs), backed by intensified security operations against known armed terrorists in the provinces of Agusan and Surigao provinces that forced over 300 former Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) to abandon their hideouts in the Diwata mountains and surrender to the government.
Combined efforts of the military, local government units, and national and local government agencies effectively dismantled the CNTs’ former strongholds.
Go said six heavily armed CNTs – two commanding officers, one political guide, one medic, one team leader and one squad member recently surrendered to the military in Agusan del Sur.
He said the rebel returnees were members of Guerilla Front 3 (GF 3) of the CPP-NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC), the terror unit which has been mainly responsible for all atrocities in the area such as arsons, murders, and extortions.
“The CNTs peacefully surrendered to 75th Infantry (Marauder) Battalion (75th IB), 4th ID last March 3, 2019, Capt. Go said.
They brought with them assorted firearms, ammunition and explosives including one AK47 rifle, one M16A1 rifle, two Cal. 45 pistol, two Cal. 38 pistol, two hand grenades, two improvised pipe bombs, five blasting caps, five meters detonating cord, four magazines of AK47 with 97 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, five short steel magazines of M16A1 with 126 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition and two bandoliers.
“We just want to go back to our families and live a normal and peaceful life. Life has not been easy for us in the mountains but it was more difficult for the families that we have left behind,” one of the rebel commanders said, adding that “they suffer more than we do because we cannot provide for them (their respective families).”
“The firearms and weapons that we brought down with us have become our tool for aggression and oppression against our very own neighbors and we just do not want to be part of the senseless violence anymore,” he added.
Brig. Gen. Andres Centino, commanding general of the Army’s 401st Infantry (Unity) Brigade said the surrender of CPP-NPAs in the areas was believed to demoralize the remaining leadership of the CPP-NPA in the region.
“Demoralization among CNT members is at all-time high due to the influx of surrenderees. The CPP-NPA has no one to blame but itself. People have already gotten weary of senseless violence,” Brig Gen. Centino said.
Records of the 4th ID showed that since January of this year, a total of 352 CNT terrorists already turned themselves in and are now back with their respective families. Earlier this week, nine former CNTs with nine assorted firearms also surrendered to the 26th Infantry Battalion.
Brig. Gen. Franco Nemesio M. Gacal, commanding general of the Army’s Northeastern and Northern Mindanao 4th ID claimed that the government is already winning the war against communist insurgency in the region.
“The latest surrender is proof that we can gradually achieve peace without resorting to violence and bloodshed and these latest batch of surrenderees is another milestone in our quest for a just and long-lasting peace and let us all wage a peaceful war together- one that values lives above anything else,” Gacal said.
He assured that CNTs who are still waging a futile war will be treated with dignity and care should they choose to go back to the folds of the law.