20 ex-rebels in Sorsogon thank gov’t for new lease on life

20 ex-rebels in Sorsogon thank gov’t for new lease on life

LEGAZPI CITY – A total of 20 members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who have surrendered to the 22nd Infantry Battalion (22IB) and the 9th Infantry (Spear) Division (9ID) in Sorsogon thanked the Philippine Army and the government as a whole for helping them start a new and peaceful life.

Captain John Paul Belleza, 9ID spokesperson, on Friday said the government’s sincerity in helping former rebels has been encouraging their comrades still with the movement to also return to the fold of the law.

The 20 surrendered rebels were presented to government officials headed by Gov. Francis Escudero in a simple ceremony at the headquarters of the 903rd Infantry Brigade in Castilla town, Sorsogon province last Wednesday, Jan. 27.

One of them, “Peter”, said he was deceived by the terrorist group’s false claims that is why he hesitated numerous times in going down from the mountains to surrender.

“Hindi naman pala pinapatay at binabalatan ng buhay ang mga NPA kapag sumusuko. Maling-mali ang sinasabi sa amin ng aming mga lider dahil nakita ko ang dati naming mga kasamahan na NPA na nagbalik-loob sa pamahalaan na naging maayos naman ang kanilang buhay at masayang kapiling ang kanilang pamilya, namuhay ng normal na walang iniisip na panganib, hindi kailangan gumising ng alanganing oras para lang maglipat ng base. Kaya ngayon, hindi po ako nagdalawang-isip na magbalik-loob sa gobyerno,” (NPAs who surrender are not really killed, nor tortured. What our leaders told us are all lies, because I saw that my former comrades who returned to the fold of the law are now living well and happy with their family, living normally without worries. There is no more need to wake up very early to go and find a new base. So now, without second thoughts or hesitation, I decided to go back to the fold of the government),” Peter added.

Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., commander of the Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) who was present during the event, lauded the 9ID and its units for the persistent campaigns against the communist terrorist group and recognized Gov.  Escudero’s good governance which, according to him, contributed significantly to the continuous surrender of rebels in the province.

“Gaano man kayo katagal sa hukbo, kami ay nagagalak at napag-isip-isipan ninyo na magbalik-loob. Ito ay hindi lang nangyayari dito sa Sorsogon o sa Masbate, sa Kabikolan. ‘Yong mga pagsuko po, ito ay nangyayari sa buong Pilipinas,”( No matter how long you have been in there, we are pleased that you are now with the government.  This kind of event does only happen here in Sorsogon, Masbate, Bicol but in the entire country.), Parlade said.

Escudero, on the other hand, emphasized that the five-decade armed struggle by the communist terrorist group (CTG) is already long enough and must be put to an end.

“Hindi na angkop at hindi na nababagay ang pag-aaklas at pagpatay ng Pilipino sa kapwa Pilipino sa panahong ito lalong-lalo na sa panahon ng pandemya. Anuman ang problema sana magtulungan tayo para maresolbahan ang problema. Anuman ang pagkukulang ng pamahalaan o ninyo man, sana makipagtulungan tayo para mahanapan ng solusyon ang problemang ‘yon,” (It is not adequate and timely for rebellion and killing fellow Filipinos especially in this time of the pandemic. No matter what the problem is, let’s all help one another to resolve the problem. No matter what the shortcomings of the government as well as yours are, we have to help each other to solve the problem),” the governor said.

Maj. Gen. Henry Robinson Jr., commander of Joint Task Force Bicolandia (JTFB), in a statement, commended the persistence, commitment, and passion of all the Spear Troopers especially the 903rd Infantry Brigade under Brig. Gen. Noe Alberto Peñafiel and the 22IB under Lt. Col. Nelson Mico which led to the rebels’ surrender.

“The increasing number of surrenderees is a great manifestation that the people can no longer be deceived by the CTG’s erroneous ideology and empty promises. Ito ay isang patunay na sila ay namumulat na sa katotohanan na ang inaasam nilang pagbabago ay makikita lamang sa pamamagitan ng pakikiisa sa ating gobyerno,” he said.

The former rebels yielded to the government some two weeks ago, bringing with them 20 high-powered firearms.

They will now undergo the process of reintegration into mainstream society. 

The surrenderers received gift packs during their presentation rites. (PNA)

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