CAMP OSITO BAHIAN, Malaybalay City, May 13--Seventeen members of the New People's Army (NPA) recently surrendered to the 1st Special Forces Battalion (1SFBn) operationally controlled by 403rd Infantry Brigade, 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.
Lieutenant Colonel Vercisio G. San Jose Jr, 1SFBn commander, said that precise intelligence operation and relentless physical pressure resulted in the massive surrender.
"This group operates under Guerilla Fronts 68A and 68B, Sub-Regional Sentro De Grabidad all of Sub-Regional Committee (SRC) 4, North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC). The cooperation of their [NPA] relatives and concerned local government units also contributed to this mass surrender," he said.
In a ceremony at the 1SFBn Headquarters, the surrendering NPA rebels laid down their guns and pledged to end its rebellion by rendering the "Panunumpa sa Watawat ng Pilipinas" led by former rebel Marlon Manalang Credo.
They turned over three M16 rifles, three AK47, one M14, one Garand rifle, and three Caliber .45 M1911 pistols.
In a speech, Gov. Zubiri said he noticed that most members of the group are young. Completely happy to see the new surrenderers, he gave each of them P25,000.
"I am very thankful that you've decided to surrender. I noticed that most of you are so young. I know there will be a bright future ahead of you if you will fully cooperate with the government. The provincial government of Bukidnon will assist with meeting your needs before you are able to support yourselves," the governor said.
On the same occasion, 403rd Brigade Commander BGen. Ferdinand T. Barandon briefed the press on the high-ranking former rebels who are now beneficiaries of the government's Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP).
"The efforts of the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC) has now come to fruition. The surrender of another 17 young NPAs signifies that the government is on the right track in its peace efforts and that victory is within reach," BGen. Barandon said.
Major General Andres C. Centino, 4th Infantry 'Diamond' Division commander, meanwhile, emphasized that the government has prepared bundles of assistance for those who want to surrender.
"This mass surrender is a conclusive evidence that there's no use glitzing up since most of the NPA's repetitive drivels against the government are nothing more than radical left brainwashing. Peacekeeping is a shared responsibility. The TF-ELCAC's efforts are called upon not only to coordinate and implement peace and development programs but also to facilitate the reintegration of former rebels, protect civilians, and assist in restoring the rule of law, among other enabling mechanisms to operationalize Executive Order No. 70," MGen. Centino said. (JEMontealto, CMO 403Bde, 4ID PA/PIA Bukidnon)