CAMP CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal — Combined elements of soldiers and police recovered three M16 rifles with magazines and ammunition after a former rebel led them to an arms cache in Quezon Province on Friday.
Lt Col Emmanuel Cabahug, Commanding Officer of 85th Infantry Battalion, identified the former rebel as alias Shasha who was a former full-time member of the NPA’s Platoon Japson which operates in Bondoc Peninsula.
He added that “the rifles were buried in an NPA-designated cache at Mulanay town’s Brgy Burgos, a location where they hide firearms whenever they evade our forces and recover after government troops leave the area.”
Brigadier General Norwyn Romeo Tolentino, Commander of the 201st Infantry Brigade which has operational jurisdiction over Southern Quezon, said that “in his own volition, the former rebel led our forces to that arms cache after he felt our sincerity and heartfelt desire in helping him reintegrate to mainstream society through the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP which will allow him to live a peaceful life with his family.”
He described alias Shasha’s cooperation as a “manifestation of the sweeping demoralization and disenchantment across the NPA terrorists’ ranks which is a result of their fast-eroding mass bass support as well as the prevailing paranoia due to the series of unprecedented debacles that they suffered in this part of the country.”
BGen Tolentino ended his statement with the assurance that “all NPA terrorists who will turn their backs from armed conflict will be treated by our soldiers humanely and with dignity similar to the way we treated alias Shasha which is contrary to what the underground movement has been indoctrinating to their members, however, those who will insist to stay on the path of terrorism must be ready to face the full force and might of the duly constituted government.”
Under E-CLIP, former rebels can avail up to Php 700,000 worth of grants which include immediate and livelihood assistance as well as firearms remuneration and housing benefits, among others.
Major General Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr, Commander of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, expressed his optimism that “digging arms caches will be the new normal in Southern Tagalog considering that our 604 surrenders over the past two years are now realising and deciding to answer our citizens’ call for national healing and unity so that our country can finally move forward as a nation.”
Per the military’s records, 117 firearms have been turned-over to the government by former rebels since the E-CLIP’s maiden implementation in 2016.
Maj Gen Burgos confirmed that “2ID is now in the final stages of validating the dismantling of the NPA unit which operates in the boundaries of Rizal, Laguna, Quezon and Bulacan after the enemies of the state suffered decisive blows from our focused military operations that are based on near real-time intelligence given by the people living in those communities.”
He ended his statement by calling on “the few remaining NPA terrorists to follow the path of their former comrades by choosing the path of peace over violence so that we may be able to finally live the peaceful and prosperous lives that every Filipino citizen truly deserves.”