Convinced of the government’s sincerity to help them live a better life, one hundred thirteen members and supporters of the terrorist group surrendered and withdrew their membership and support from the CPP-NPA-NDF in Masbate.
Of the number,
- 21 surrendered on September 14 (nine were members of Militiang Bayan (MB), three were members of Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad (SPL) and nine supporters) who also turned in nine low-powered firearms;
- 20 surrendered on September 15 (six MB, seven SPL, seven supporters);
- 48 surrendered on September 16 (10 MB, 32 SPL and six supporters); and
- 24 surrendered on September 17 (one regular NPA member, 12 SPL and 11 supporters).
They surrendered to the different Community Support Program (CSP) Teams deployed in the province. After series of debriefings, qualified surrenderers will be enrolled in the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) or “Balik-Loob” which will grant them cash, livelihood, medical, housing and educational assistance.
The group also pledged their all-out support to end the more than five-decade armed struggle.
For 2021 alone, more than 700 CTG members and supporters have returned to the folds of the law.
Of this number more than 500 gave up their arms following massive demoralization rising out of the moral ascendancy of the Communist Terrorist Groups as an offshoot of the the assassination of Kieth Absalon, the community poster boy of his barangay in promoting sports engagements among the youth in his barangay.
Kieth was a rising national athlete representing the Far Eastern University soccer team.
His cousin Nolven was killed together with him. They were first shot to disabled them from their bikes, followed by a blast of improvised explosive device (IED) and then shot in close range to assure the job was completed.
MajGen Henry Robinso commended the security forces and the Masbateños for staying committed to the government’s anti-insurgency campaign, noting “This is now the result of the consistent convergence of efforts of all the local government units (LGUs) including the local chief executives, from their Governor down to the Mayors and Barangay officials of Masbate.”
“As our plan convert onto fruition, we are even more driven to press on the fight and totally extricate communist insurgency,” Robinson said, “Help the path to peace by seeking your relatives in harms way and convince them of the sincerity of our invitation for them to give up their arms and join the government’s Balik-Loob Program.”
One more terrorist captured
A day after this mass surrender, a communist NPA terrorist was captured in an armed encounter in San Pascual town, also in Masbate after concerned citizens of Barangay Mabini reported about the presence of his group in their area prompting the elements of 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB) and PNP to conduct a security operation encountering six rebels.
The firefight that lasted for five minutes further resulted to the seizure of two anti-personnel mines (Claymore), one caliber .38 revolver with six live ammunitions, shotgun, ammunitions for M60 machine gun and M14, one handheld radio, and two cellphones.
Lt. Col. Siegfried Felipe Awichen said that the apprehended CNT is now under the custody of the Army and will be turned over to proper authorities for dispositive action while thanking the residents for the prompt report and encouraged them to continue supporting government programs to finally end armed conflicts in Masbate.
Awichen also attributed the earlier mass surrender to the strong clamor of the Masbateños for an armed conflict-free province. The goodwill, he said is matched foursquare by the joint efforts of the Army, police and the local government units.
Col. Aldwine Almase, Brigade Commander of 903rd Infantry Brigade, urged the CTG members to stop wasting their lives inside the armed movement, “Gayahin ninyo ‘yong desisyon ng 113 na nagbalik loob sa pamahalaan at iniwan ang teroristang komunista diyan sa Masbate kamakailan lamang.
Almase said in the vernacular, “Mas ginugusto ng inyong kasundaluhan ang mapayapa at kusa ninyong pagbabalik-loob sa pamahalaan, iwan ang armado at marahas na pamumuhay at matanggap ang mga programang sa inyo ay naghihintay upang muli ninyong madama ang panatag at masayang bagong buhay kapiling ang inyong pamilya at mga minamahal sa buhay.”
(Your army prefers peace and that on your own you return to the fold of law and start a new life.)
PBGen. Jonnel Estomo, Regional Director of Police Regional Office 5 (PRO-5) also emphasized that the police is now in close coordination with the Army to facilitate the filing of case against the apprehended CNT.
One more terrorist killed
Meanwhile, joint elements of 96th Infantry Battalion under Lt. Col. Benjamin Lonogan, 9th Infantry Batallion under Lt. Col. Cleto Lelina Jr, and 902nd Infantry Brigade supported by the troops from Municipal Police Stations of Lupi and Sipocot in Camarines Sur, immediately responded last September 13 to a report of extortion and recruitment of minors.
After a fierce gun fight with about 20 insurgents, government troops found a body of an NPA member killed in the encounter —abandoned by CTG; the troops seized three anti-personnel mines, 20-meter wire, 100 pcs M16 ammunition, a cellphone,terroristic propaganda materials and personal belongings.
Col. Jaime A. Abawag Jr., Brigade Commander of the 902nd Brigade said that his troops will not stop in hunting down the communist terrorists until the aspiration of people of Lupi for insurgency-free community is achieved.
“Hindi namin hahayaan na magpatuloy ang kanilang pangingikil sa mga mahihirap lalo na ngayong panahon ng pandemya. At hindi rin natin hahayaan na sirain nila ang kinabukasan ng ating mga kabataan na patuloy nilang nililinlang upang umanib sa kanilang grupo,” Abawag said.
(We will not tolerate extortion and recruitment of these rebels for child warriors, especially under the pandemic.) (SPH/Ado Paglinawan)