ILOILO CITY, Sept. 28 (PIA) -- The 12th Infantry Battalion turned-over two female former rebels to Tapaz, Capiz mayor Roberto Palomar, Sept. 26, during a formal ceremony conducted at Tapaz Civic Center.
The former rebels voluntarily surrendered to the local officials who brought them to 12IB last August 29, 2020, in Brgy Atimonan, Janiuay, Iloilo after troops encountered their group in two successive armed engagements, a media release from the 1Lt. Michael Imperial of the 12IB Civil Military Operations Office said.
According to former rebels Ka JL and Ka Alexa, they were new recruits deceived by members of CPP-NPA who invited them to join the group in the hinterlands of Janiuay, Iloilo while their classes for college have not yet opened.
The two also shared that during their fourth day with the communist group, soldiers located and engaged their group; they kept running away and walking for two days without food and with very minimal sleep.
They added that the extreme hardship while they were with the CPP-NPA motivated them to surrender when they were separated from their group after the second firefight with the troops.
Members of the Capiz Police Provincial Office, Parish Pastoral Council of Tapaz, barangay officials of Lahug, Tapaz, along with the representatives from 301st Infantry Brigade and 12th Infantry Battalion, were present during the ceremony.
During the turn-over ceremony, mayor Palomar expressed his gratitude to the Philippine Army especially to the 12IB for taking good care of Ka JL and Ka Alexa while under their custody.
He likewise pointed out that the government, under the current administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, is now addressing the main cause of insurgency - poverty.
Palomar said that the government is now prioritizing the building of roads and bringing electricity to remote barangays so that people can have better lives.
He also said that the Tapaz local government, in partnership with the military and other government agencies, will bring the government services to the people in far flung areas.
He promised the two returnees an educational scholarship to ensure that they will be given a chance for a better life.
On his part, 12IB Commander Lt. Col. Joseph Jason Estrada stressed the role of the youth in nation-building and should not be used by terrorist groups for their selfish agenda.
He reminded the parents to be vigilant in protecting their children from the deceptive recruitment of the CPP-NPA as they will be used to take arms against the government and risk getting killed in the mountains.
"The youth should be in school studying to have better lives and become responsible future leaders of the nation," Estrada said.
The 3rd Infantry Division, the 301st Infantry Brigade and the 12IB of the Philippine Army also urged current CPP-NPA members to follow Ka JL and Ka Alexa and surrender.
"They will be accepted with open arms and will be treated with care just like the two former rebels. But if they choose to continue fighting, the Army will be relentless against the terrorist group that hinders peace and development in Panay," he said. (PIA6/1Lt.MBImperial/12IB-CMO/PA)