BUTUAN CITY – The Army’s 36th Infantry Battalion welcomed two communist New People’s Army (NPA) combatants who surrendered on Friday at its headquarters in the Surigao del Sur town of Tago.
Capt. Jonald Romorosa, 36IB civil-military operations officer, identified the NPA surrenderers only as alias “EJ”, 25, of Barangay Libas Gua, San Miguel town; and alias “Rex”, 23, of Barangay Umalag in the same town.
In a statement on Saturday, Romorosa said EJ brought along with him an M1 carbine rifle with a magazine and five rounds of ammunition while Rex turned over an M653 rifle with a short steel magazine with live ammunition and an attached M203 grenade launcher with explosive ammunition.
EJ is the former team leader of the weakened Guerrilla Front 30 (WGF-30) under the NPA’s North-Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC), Romorosa said, adding that Rex is a former political guide at a sub-regional committee under the NEMRC.
“Rex joined the armed movement because he was brainwashed by the propaganda coupled with sweet words and false promises of the Communist NPA Terrorist (CNT) while EJ was recruited because of adventurism and curiosity of the armed movement,” Romorosa said.
He said the two surrendered because of “hardships in the movement and the unfairness of their leaders in the provision of food and other support that they forcibly collect from civilians and other sources in the area.”
“They learned that some of their comrades, especially those from their communities, already returned to the fold of the law and received aid from the government. They also realized that the government is sincere in its efforts in bringing the basic needs of the people, particularly in conflict-affected areas amid the global pandemic crisis brought about by 2019 coronavirus diseases (Covid-19),” he added.
Lt. Col. Jezreel Diagmel, 36IB commander, commended the move of the two former rebels as he handed over cash aid as immediate assistance from the Army unit.
“The two former rebels realized that they are fighting a lost cause and failed ideology. They learned that the government is sincere in its efforts towards achieving peace and development which is very contradicting to the sweet talks of the Communist NPA Terrorists,” Diagmel said.
He also credited their surrender to the “persistent information operation efforts of the Army in partnership with local leaders and stakeholders” in Surigao del Sur.
“To the remaining CNTs (Communist NPA Terrorists), surrender and lay down your arms. Help the government to achieve a long and lasting peace that every peace-loving Surigaonons long for,” Diagmel said.
He said that the two former rebels will be enrolled in the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program. (PNA)