In just eleven days following the gruesome murder of FEU football player Kieth Absalon and his cousin Nolven, a total of five hundred five members and supporters of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) yielded to the government in Masbate province.
The mass surrenders comprising of one (1) regular New People’s Army (NPA) member; 221 Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad (SPL) members; 95 Militiang Bayan (MB) members; 36 Barangay Revolutionary Committee (BRC) members; 84 Ganap na Samahang Masa (GSM) members; 12 Grupong Pang-organisa sa Barrio (GPB) members; 44 Grupong Balangay (GB); and 12 supporters, applied for the Balik-Loob Program.
They came from the municipalities of Palanas, Dimasalang, Masbate City and Mobo, all of Masbate province.
The surrenders occurred from June 18-28, signaling a momentum of strong repulsion of the recent heinous crimes committed by communist terrorists in the shooting and bombing incident at Barangay Anas, Masbate City.
Lt. Col. Siegfried Felipe Awichen, Battalion Commander of 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB) attributed the continuous withdrawal of support of CTG members and supporters from CPP-NPA-NDF to the aggressive proaction of Community Support Program (CSP) in the identified guerrilla bases in the 3rd District of the province, assisted by the effective joint operations of Army and Philippine National Police.
Through CSP operations, residents can openly raise their concerns as well as the underlying issues and problems of their communities to the CSP team which the latter refers to the concerned government agencies for immediate solution.
The CSP is now reinforced by the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) under the Whole-of-Nation Approach (WONA) which rolls out different opportunities and projects including the Support to Barangay Development Program (SBDP), a funding mechanism for developmental projects at grassroots level like on-going constructions of the local access roads in Sorsogon.
Meanwhile, Col. Aldwine Almase, Brigade Commander of the 903rd Infantry Brigade believed that the CTG will continue losing all their members who can longer no longer rationalize so much devastation to the lives of their victims.
“Napipilitan lang naman ang mga miyembro nila na pumatay at magsagawa ng mga iligal na aktibidad dahil tinatakot sila ng kanilang mga lider. Kaya naman pinupuri natin ang mga surrenderers na ito na naglakas-loob na abandonahin ang CTG at talikuran ang mga karumal-dumal na krimen ng teroristang grupo laban sa mga sibilyan, sa gobyerno at sa bayan,” Col. Almase said.
On the other hand, MajGen Henry Robinson PA, commander of the Joint Task Force Bicolandia (JTFB) is confident that positive developments will continue in Masbate after Masbateños witnessed how gruesome CTG can be.
He also encourages the Bicolanos to support the full-blown implementation of the Whole-of-Nation Approach (WONA) which aims to efficiently deliver basic goods and services to the Filipinos, promote peace and good governance.
Aside from the snowballing of surrenderers in Masbate, conduct of peace rallies and declaration of CTG as persona non-grata in various Barangays and towns continues.