By Arwen Pascua
MANILA — Saying they are tired of fighting government forces, 83 members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and one of their supporters surrendered to government troops in Masbate over the weekend.
Of the mass surrenderers, nine were regular members of Communist NPA Terrorist (CNT), 40 were members of Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad (SPL), 33 were part of Militiang Bayan and a supporter.
They also turned in 15 firearms composed of six caliber .38, three homemade shotguns, two caliber .357, caliber .45, caliber 9mm, carbine and an improvised handgun.
They were presented to the Masbate Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (MPTF-ELCAC) and the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) committee.
The surrenderers received gift packs as an early Christmas present from the provincial government of Masbate. They will now undergo the process of reintegration to mainstream society.
Aside from the cash, livelihood, housing, medical and educational assistance from the E-CLIP committee, they can also avail of the various programs and benefits from the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC).
This development came after a bulk of surrenderers had publicly denounced communist terrorism in the province barely three months ago. This year alone, a total of 111 CTG members and supporters yielded to the government in Masbate.
Lt. Col. Siegfried Felipe Awichen, Battalion Commander of 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB) based in Masbate commended his troops for going above and beyond their call of duty which contributed significantly to this breakthrough.
Meanwhile, 903rd Infantry Brigade Commander BGen. Noe Alberto Peñafiel expressed his gratitude to the Bicolanos for their active participation in the government’s campaign towards sustainable peace and development.
Joint Task Force Bicolandia (JTFB) under MGen. Henry A. Robinson Jr. PA, stressed that this new batch of surrenderers who chose the path of peace is a great manifestation that the government’s peace and development efforts are being implemented successfully thereby creating conflict-free and resilient communities.
Prior to the ceremony, a Provincial Level Security Assessment Forum (PLSAF), which is an initiative of MGen. Robinson, was also held. It was attended by members of the security sector, security officers of vital installations and contractors, as well as LGU officials.
The PLSAF aims to strengthen the cooperation of the security sector and the LGU to address various security problems in the Bicol Region. (AI/FC/MTVN)