CAMP CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal — THE COMMUNIST terrorists’ mass base in Bulacan crumbled after 83 supporters withdrew their support from the communist party during a ceremony at Malolos City on Thursday. The event, presided by Bulacan Governor Daniel Fernando, was witnessed by top military and police commanders from Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog as well as by municipal mayors and National Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) representatives.
Lt. Col. Rimrad Feraer, commanding Officer of the 80th Infantry Battalion, said the majority of the former rebels are indigenous people (IP) who were coerced to support the New People’s Army (NPA) terrorists operating at the borders of Regions 3 (Central Luzon), 4 (Calabarazon) and National Capital Region.
“We condemn the NPA’s act of forcibly recruiting the IP which is a blatant disregard of their peaceful nature and a violation of their fundamental rights as enshrined in our constitution,” Feraer said.
Brig. Gen. Alex Rillera, Commander of the 202nd Infantry Brigade, said “Norzagaray is a Joint Focus Area of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division and 7th Infantry Division since the enemy operating in that area evades our forces by moving from one region to another.”
He added that through this strategy, they were able to “blur the lines which limit our movement through close coordination with our counterparts from adjacent Army and PNP units” which, according to him, resulted in “unprecedented headways in counter-insurgency operations in the area just like this mass surrender.”
He said the massive withdrawal of support signaled the dismantling of the guerilla front. Col. Lawrence Cajipe, Bulacan police provincial chief, congratulated the former rebels for “choosing the path to peace and for turning their backs from the underground movement” while assuring them that “your policemen and soldiers are always here to assist you in this next chapter of your lives.”
Maj. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr., commander of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, commended the government’s security forces for “their ability to transcend borders and deal decisive blows on the enemies of the state that further pushed them on the verge of irreversible collapse and irrecoverable defeat.”
He assured the people that “although your soldiers are happy to defeat the NPAs without firing a single shot, we are more than ready to deploy every asset and all of our military might to finally end this insurgency that has been hampering our nation’s growth and potentials so that our people can finally live the peaceful and prosperous lives that every Filipino citizen truly deserves.”
“The few remaining NPA terrorists are forewarned to lay down their arms and follow the peaceful path while they still can because additional soldiers will be deployed in the front lines to hunt them down and put an end to their terrorist acts,” he said.
In his speech, Fernando thanked President Rodrigo Duterte “for his effort to end the local communist armed conflict so that progress and development may finally be attained.”
He said the surrenderees “made the right decision because it is better to live without fear, it is better to live with their families, and it is better to live at peace and with the Lord.”
After the ceremony, Fernando handed over cash aid to the surrenderees, which is over and above the benefits under Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) which they can avail should they qualify for enrolment to the program. He also administered the oath-taking of the returnees which culminated the event.
Military and police are now determining the degree of party membership of each surrenderee. They are also validating initial reports that the surrendees include “child-warriors”. They are confident these surrenderees will lead them to arms cache after the debriefing similar to previous NPA surrendees across the country. (PR)