GENERAL SANTOS CITY – A former leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) in South-Central Mindanao reiterated his call to remaining combatants in the area to surrender to avoid suffering the same fate of their slain comrades.
Noel Legaspi alias “Ka Efren,” who had served as deputy secretary and long-time spokesperson and of the NPA’s Far South Mindanao Regional Revolutionary Committee, said on Tuesday they should grab the chance to yield and lead peaceful lives before their “uncertain struggle” catches up with them.
He issued the statement in response to the killing last Saturday of ranking NPA leader Jorge Madlos alias “Ka Oris” and another companion in a reported encounter in Barangay Dumalaguing, Impasugong town in Bukidnon.
“I am again appealing to my former comrades to surrender before it’s too late,” Legaspi said in an interview.
The former rebel leader, along with his wife Jeanalyn Defensor Bendalian, surrendered to government troops in January 2018 in South Cotabato province after nearly 26 years in the communist terrorist organization.
He availed of the government’s reintegration program and has since become a peace worker and advocate.
Legaspi said he had known the 72-year-old Madlos, who was considered as one of the highest-ranking NPA leaders in Mindanao, and whom he described as his “mentor.”
He said the latter’s story, specifically his death in the recent clash, is mainly the same path that awaits the NPA combatants who still refuse to give up fighting and remain in the mountains.
“They’re wasting their time for a war that they will not win and would only lead them to their graves,” he said.
Legaspi said he did not regret his decision to surrender more than three years ago and the chance to pursue a normal life.
He said his current situation, especially living with his family, has been better and far different from his previous experience while trying to survive and evading government forces in the mountains.
Legaspi reiterated that there is no more reason for them to fight the government, with the changes that came these past years.
He cited the convergence efforts of government agencies under the task forces to end local communist armed conflict that was able to reach many far-flung areas in the country to bring various services.
NPA combatants who would decide to surrender are now assured of a better and brighter future through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program, he said.
“You can also eventually become instruments of peace in our communities if you take that path,” he said.
The Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA, which has been waging a five-decade armed struggle against the government, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)