GENERAL SANTOS CITY – A “disgruntled” member of a New People’s Army (NPA) unit operating in the hinterlands of South Cotabato province surrendered on Tuesday to government troops in the area.
1Lt. Krisjuper Andreo Punsalan, commanding officer of the Army’s 11th Special Forces Company, said the rebel yielded voluntarily along with his firearm in Barangay Edwards, Tboli town following a series of negotiations.
He said the returnee, identified only as alias “Kat-Kat” for security reasons, is a former member of Platoon West, Sub-Regional Committee Musa of the NPA-Far South Mindanao Region.
The rebel surrendered a US M1 .30-caliber Carbine (folding stock) rifle bearing serial number 1339557, with one magazine and three rounds of ammunition.
Punsalan said alias “Kat-Kat,” who is a member of the Tboli-Tasaday tribe, mainly decided to surrender so he can lead a normal and peaceful life with his family.
He said the former cadre was also encouraged by the national government’s efforts to address the needs of their communities through the service caravans and other convergence programs initiated by Tboli’s Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC).
“(That) became a factor in his decision to surrender because he realized that the government is a partner and not an enemy of their tribe,” Punsalan said in a statement.
For his part, alias “Kat-Kat” said he was lured into joining the NPA because of the false promises from its leaders.
Like other members of their tribe, he said he later realized that he was just fooled by the “communist terrorist group”.
“They promised that if I fight the government, my family and I can have a better life but it did not happen,” he said.
Tboli Mayor Dibu Tuan said the surrender of alias “Kat-Kat” is an indicator that the continuing outreach activities of their Task Force ELCAC and the delivery of basic services in the area’s conflict-affected villages have been so far effective.
He expressed hope that more NPA combatants, especially those from Tboli and other local indigenous tribes, will also surrender and take part in the government’s reintegration.
“This will help us achieve a conflict-free and more developed municipality in the years to come,” he said.
Punsalan said the local government, through Mayor Tuan, handed over immediate cash assistance of PHP10,000 and two sacks of rice to the surrenderer.
He said they will assist the latter’s enrollment into the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
Alias “Kat-Kat” may be eligible for the firearms remuneration, livelihood assistance, deradicalization interventions, and other related support programs, he said.
Some 73 former NPA rebels in South Cotabato have received various assistance under the E-CLIP this year through support from the Army’s 5th Special Forces Battalion.
Punsalan said the former rebels received immediate and reintegration assistance from the local government units as well as firearms remuneration and livelihood grants. (PNA)