Governor Francis “Chiz” Escudero led Sorsogn local government units during the recent presentation of surrenderees in the headquarters of 903rd Infantry Brigade in Castilla town Sorsogon province.
Speaking in the vernacular, Escudero said “Hindi na angkop at hindi na nababagay ang pag-aaklas at pagpatay ng Pilipino sa kapwa Pilipino sa panahong ito lalong-lalo na sa panahon ng pandemya. Anuman ang problema sana magtulungan tayo para maresolbahan ang prolema. Anuman ang pagkukulang ng pamahalaan o ninyo man, sana makipagtulungan tayo para mahanapan ng solusyon ang problemang ‘yon.”
Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., commander of Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) lauded the 9ID and its units for the persistent campaigns against the CTG and also recognized Gov. Chiz Escudero’s good governance which, according to him, contributed significantly to the continuous snowballing of surrenderees in the province.
“Gaano man kayo katagal sa hukbo, kami ay nagagalak at napag-isip-isipan ninyo na magbalik-loob. Ito ay hindi lang nangyayari dito sa Sorsogon o sa Masbate, sa Kabikolan. ‘Yong mga pagsuko po, ito ay nangyayari sa buong Pilipinas,” Lt. Gen. Parlade said.
In his message, Governor Escudero also emphasized that the 5-decade armed struggle is already long enough and he also wants it over.
The response of the former rebels was also moving.
Peter, a former CTG member said that he was deceived by the terrorist group’s false accusations that is why he hesitated numerous times to go down.
“Hindi naman pala pinapatay at binabalatan ng buhay ang mga NPA kapag sumusuko. Maling-mali ang sinasabi sa amin ng aming mga lider dahil nakita ko ang dati naming mga kasamahan na NPA na nagbalik-loob sa pamahalaan na naging maayos naman ang kanilang buhay at masayang kapiling ang kanilang pamilya, namuhay ng normal na walang iniisip na panganib, hindi kailangan gumising ng alanganing oras para lang maglipat ng base. Kaya ngayon, hindi po ako nagdalawang-isip na magbalik-loob sa gobyerno,” Peter added.
Out of the many reasons given by the former rebels to abandon the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG), the consensus among them was what ignited the former rebels’ yearning to return to the folds of the law is the government’s sincerity.
During the ceremony, the 20 former rebels (FRs) expressed their gratitude to the Philippine Army, specifically to the 22nd Infantry Battalion (22IB) and the 9th Infantry (Spear) Division (9ID) who processed them into the government’s BalikLoob Program for helping them start a new and peaceful life.
The said FRs, who will now undergo the process of reintegration to the mainstream society including their families, were also given gift packs and some financial assistance to bridge their crossover.
Meanwhile, Joint Task Force Bicolandia (JTFB) commander Maj Gen Henry Robinson commended the persistence, commitment and passion of all the Spear Troopers especially the 903rd Infantry Brigade under BGen. Noe Alberto Peñafiel and the 22IB under Lt. Col. Nelson Mico which led to the said accomplishment.