81 'underground members' in Sultan Kudarat withdraw support for NPA

Lt. Col. Cabunoc. commander of the 33rd IB, accepts the surrender of NPA rebels in Sultan Kudarat province in this file photo. Philstar.com/File

81 'underground members' in Sultan Kudarat withdraw support for NPA

Roel Pareño (Philstar.com) - March 27, 2018 - 8:41pm
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — Another 81 members of the underground communist movement in Sultan Kudarat province have withdrawn support for the New People's Army, a military official said Tuesday.
Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, spokesperson of Western Mindanao Command, said the former communist supporters pledged allegiance to the government after a dialogue with local government officials of Bagumbayan town on Saturday.
Petinglay said the return of the rebel supporters to the government fold was initiated by the 33rd Infantry Battalion under Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc and locals official of Bagumbayan town.
She said the surrender and withdrawal of support was also witnessed by members of the Manobo ethnic group, who also previously supported the NPA's Guerrilla Front 73. 
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Westmincom chief, credited the continuous military operations in Sultan Kudarat with driving NPA rebels out of villages in Sultan Kudarat.
The Communist Party of the Philippines on Monday played down government reports of rebels and supporters surrendering to local authorities.
According to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, 3,730 of those who surrendered are from the so-called "Militia ng Bayan" or are supporters. Around 97 percent of surrenderees are from the Caraga and Davao regions, the military also said.
"There are, of course, some members of the NPA who have surrendered. That is not being denied. It is the natural course of war," the CPP said Monday, citing Noel Legazpi, a former spokesperson of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines who has surrendered to the government.
The party pointed out, however, that most of those who surrendered are unarmed civilians who "have not been charged in court nor has evidence been put forward against them" but whom the government calls members of the NPA.

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