Former NPAs in North Cotabato call on rebels to surrender
This December 26, 2020 photo shows firearms that the military said were turned over by New People's Army rebels who have surrendered
via The STAR/John Unson

Former NPAs in North Cotabato call on rebels to surrender

John Unson (Philstar.com) - December 27, 2020 - 11:48am

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Two alleged bomb couriers of the New People’s Army surrendered while five others urged former comrades to avail of the government's reconciliation program for rebels on Saturday.

Brig. Gen. Roy Galido of the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade in Tacurong City said Sunday the two NPAs who yielded Saturday to the 5th Special Forces Battalion in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato also turned in assault rifles.

One of the two NPAs, who asked to be identified only as “Tonton” for fear of reprisals, said he and his companion surrendered after learning that more than 10 guerrillas were killed two days before by soldiers in a series of encounters at Mount Lumuton in Palimbang town in Sultan Kudarat province.

The NPA fatalities were in a group that attempted to converge and commemorate there the 52nd founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Personnel of the Army’s 603rd Infantry Brigade of the 6th Infantry Division promptly thwarted the supposed activity of no fewer than a hundred NPA rebels at Mount Lumuton, acting on tips from Palimbang residents.

Villagers have confirmed seeing NPA guerrillas carry 11 wounded companions away from the mountain as Air Force planes dropped bombs on their location.

"It is better to surrender now and return to our parents before we get killed like what happened to our companions," Tonton told reporters in Hiligaynon.

Members of the Lake Sebu municipal peace and order council said Tonton and his companion were both couriers of improvised explosive devices for the NPA's self-styled Far South Mindanao Region Command. Authorities said the rebels bomb public transportation and establishments when owners refuse to shell out "protection money".

Galido, commander of the 601st Infantry Brigade, said credit for the surrender of the two NPAs should go to local officials in Lake Sebu and to Lt. Col. Randy Banaag, commanding officer of the 5th SF Battalion.

Surrenderees call on NPA to give up

In North Cotabato, five former NPAs who surrendered to units of the 1002nd Infantry Brigade through the intercession of Gov. Nancy Catamco urged active guerrillas to return to the fold of law while there is time yet.

The five reforming former NPAs separately told reporters, during a dialogue in Magpet town in North Cotabato on Saturday that they have no regrets on having renounced their membership with the NPA.

One of them said they are now being reintroduced into the local communities by the military and the provincial government.

Army officials and local leaders also presented dozens of firearms turned over by NPAs to units of the 1002nd Infantry Brigade in recent months.

Col. Potenciano Camba of the 1002nd Brigade said leaders of indigenous highland communities in North Cotabato are supporting the efforts of local government units to prevent NPA recruitment in tribal enclaves far from municipal centers.

Camba said NPAs from highland North Cotabato towns who surrendered in previous months are now being rehabilitated by LGUs with the help of the office of Catamco, a first-termer provincial governor.

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