A field commander of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) and seven of his men have surrendered to authorities in Sultan Kudarat province, the military here said Thursday.
In a statement, Lt. Colonel Rommel Valencia, Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion commander, said alias “Simon” and his followers surrendered during simple rites held Wednesday afternoon at the Old Capitol compound in Barangay Kalawag, Isulan town.
“The sustained military and police operations in the towns of Bagumbayan and Senator Ninoy Aquino forced the rebels to surrender,” Valencia said, adding that Colonel Tom Tuzon, the provincial police director, also played a major role in convincing the rebels to yield.
“Simon,” the platoon commander of Central Musa, NPA Guerilla Front Musa, Far South Mindanao Region (FSMR), also turned over seven assorted firearms, including two 12-gauge shotguns, with ammunition during the surrender ceremony.
“We are tired of fighting. We just want to go home,” Simon said in the vernacular during a phone patch interview.
Valencia, meanwhile, has lauded the support extended by the local government units, government agencies, non-government organizations, and locals to the continuous surrender in batches of NPAs in the area.
This year alone, a total of 110 communist rebels operating in the provinces of Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, and parts of Sarangani have surrendered to military and police forces under the Army-led Joint Task Force Central (JTFC) in Central Mindanao.
Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander, heads the JTFC in the region in a concurrent capacity.
Uy commended the efforts of the Sultan Kudarat provincial and local government units for their unwavering support in sustaining peace in their respective areas.
“The surrender of the ranking (communist) official manifests that they have now realized there is no future in joining the NPA as most of their members continue to return to the mainstream society,” Uy said.
Expressing confidence, he said the defeat of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – NPA – National Democratic Front (NDF) in the area is irreversible.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
The NDF has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and separate part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973.