CAMP SANG-AN, Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur – Sixteen more former members of New People’s Army (NPA), four of whom are females (locally called Amazona) and two are child warriors, surrendered to the 53rd Infantry Battalion (53IB), Philippine Army, in Camp Major David Sabido, Poblacion, Zamboanga del Sur (ZDS) on September 26, 2018.
“Most of these surrenderees said they can no longer withstand the hardship they suffer on a daily basis while on continued stay in the jungles, got tired of their useless cause and they now want to live in peace and live normal lives with their families,” Lieutenant Colonel Marlowe E. Patria, Commanding Officer of 53IB, said.
” AKA Cel, one of the female surrenderees, was a first year college student taking up Education but had long stopped going to school when recruited last year.
“I regretted much that I became a member of the NPAs and became part of the group’s revolutionary undertaking. To be honest, I found no sense staying with the group in the jungles for a cause. I saw no meaning, no direction and no hope. I should have pursued my studies in college,” she said.
Lt. Col. Patria also added that they can still see elements of “force and intimidation” as the usual ploy used by the NPAs in recruiting their members. This is the reason why members only last in the jungles for few months or almost a year, at most. Only very few hardcore members are considered as “main-stays” but they are the ones who are receiving biggest chunks from their extortion collection.
Majority of these surrenderees belong to the CNT group Secom Kara of the Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee of the CPP/NPA/NDF, including those thirteen who also surrendered to the authorities last July and are now undergoing different procedures for the E-CLIP. These Former Rebels (FRs) are the ones who used to operate and wreak havoc in the municipalities of Midsalip, Pagadian, Tigbao, Lakewood, Lapuyan and San Miguel.
These surrenderees will be thoroughly processed which include making them undergo series of re-orientation seminars, psycho-social debriefing sessions, and livelihood trainings by the different partner government agencies such as Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
The two who were minor-aged when recruited will be especially handled by the DSWD. Most of them can also be enrolled with the Enhanced – Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) to receive livelihood assistance in preparation for their return to the mainstream society.
Col. Bagnus Gaerlan, Commanding Officer of the 102nd Infantry Brigade based in Ipil, ZDS said, “more surrenderees are coming in droves after feeling the pressure of our relentless and focused military operations in the entire Zamboanga Peninsula. Also, the convergence of our efforts with other government agencies, including the media in bringing our government’s re-integration program to the ranks of NPAs is continuously enticing more of their members to yield and eventually tread back to the mainstream society.”
Maj. Gen. Roseller G. Murillo, the Commander of the JTF ZAMPELAN also said, “We are also postured in pursuing the localized negotiation with the Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs), as what the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) leadership has mandated us to do. But this is only good for those who will choose to engage us through peaceful means. Our troops are ever ready to engage them and neutralize them when needed.”