ASUNCION, Davao Del Norte (DWDD) – Amid the on-going implementation of the 60th Infantry Battalion’s Community Support Program (CSP) in Davao del Norte and Laak, Compostela Valley Province, four members of the New People’s Army voluntarily surrendered to the unit, each of them bringing at least one high-powered firearm and other war materials, on separate occasions in the last two weeks.
Two of the four surrenderees are leaders of the NPA people’s militia (militiang bayan). One of the remaining two was recruited when he was still a minor. The other one is a fresh recruit who had been with the same group for only a week. All of the surrenderees turned-over their NPA-issued firearms to the authorities.
On November 8 (Wednesday), an Alias Gimo from Kapalong town surrendered to the CSP Team deployed in the area together with two anti-personnel landmines. In a follow-up operation, the military retrieved Gimo’s M16 assault rifle from his former station. Gimo was the leader of a militiang bayan unit under Maximo Catarata aka Makatindog who is the commander of Guerilla Front 34.
On November 16 (Thursday), an Alias Allan from Laak town surrendered to the joint elements of 60IB’s Charlie Company and the 72IB’s Delta Company (CAFGU Active Auxiliaries). Allan brought with him his AK-47 rifle together with several magazines and numerous ammunitions. Allan was recruited by a certain Hayker earlier this month and has only been with the NPA for a week.
On November 19 (Sunday), an Alias Jeko from New Corella town surrendered to 60IB with his M16 rifle attached with a M203 grenade launcher. He also turned in his NPA-issued handheld communication radio. Jeko was a leader of another militia unit under Danny Pastor aka Caloy of Guerilla Front 33. He said he was involved in several armed encounters including the recent clash with 60IB troops last September in Barangay Longganapan, Laak.
Later that same day (November 19), an Alias Karel from Laak town also surrendered to 60IB with the help of Alias Allan who was his cousin. Karel said he joined the NPA after undergoing an orientation with the NPA in 2015. He was only 16 years old at that time. Karel surrendered with his garand rifle.
Attributed to the continuous implementation of 60IB’s CSP, coupled with its intensified security,
intelligence, and civil-military operations, the surrenders of Gimo, Allan, Jeko, and Karel were preceded by the voluntary submission of over 60 other former NPA members for 2017 alone. At least 20 of them yielded with their firearms (usually coupled with landmines and other war materials).
In their respective custodial interviews, all four said that they have wanted to surrender for some time already because they are tired of treading the mountains while their leaders lay comfortable about in their hideouts. They also narrated how it is getting even more difficult to evade operating military troops as the time passes.
Jeko also mentioned a conflict in their higher leadership, citing disagreements among his superiors and disintegration of command.
Gimo, meanwhile, said that his role as MB–in charge of delivering supplies and laying/detonating landmines against military troops–prevented him from earning extra money and taking care of his family. The same is true for many of his comrades.
The four further revealed how their respective groups are continuously planning to conduct atrocities against government troops and even civilian establishments and facilities.
Recently, the troops of 60IB have also discovered four NPA encampments particularly in the hinterlands of Laak, CVP.
Meanwhile, four surrenderees will be enrolled to the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) where they can receive immediate cash and livelihood assistance. They will also receive additional cash remuneration for their surrendered firearms.
1001st Infantry Brigade Commander, Col. Erwin Bernard Neri, in a statement, acknowledged the “extra effort” of the troops to really engage the community and encourage NPA members and supporters to voluntarily surrender instead of insisting to continue in their armed struggle. “I think they are finally realizing that fighting a fully capable and functioning government is futile. We are making consistent progress in the communities and we see no reason for them to remain struggling in the mountains.”
Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Emmanuel Canilla, Commander of 60IB, says that, “it is better to surrender; especially with their firearms and bombs so those [NPA criminals] left behind will not have the means to cause further harm.”
President Rodrigo Duterte, the AFP’s Commander-in-Chief, recently said that he plans to proclaim the NPA as terrorists. He has also previously ordered the military to conduct relentless operations in areas threatened by the NPA criminals. 60IB / MCAG