By Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – Sixteen alleged members, including three high-ranking officials of the New People’s Army (NPA), returned to the folds of the law in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental last Tuesday.
Brigadier General Inocencio Pasaporte, commander of the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade (IBde), said that these rebel returnees were former members of Central Negros 1 (CN1) based in the towns of Isabela and Moises Padilla in Negros Occidental, and Guihulngan City.
Among the surrenderers were the commanding officer of Sentro de Grabidad Platoon, a political instructor, and a medical officer, who were former members of CN1, Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros, Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor (KR-NCBS) under Leonardo Panaligan Command (LPC) of the NPA.
Pasaporte said that the former rebels reached out to the local officials through the Guihulngan City Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (GCTF-ELCAC), in coordination with the 62nd Infantry Battalion (IB), Guihulngan City Police Station, and 61st Special Action Company (SAC), 6th Special Action Battalion (6SAB).
Pasaporte said the mass surrender was the result of the 62nd IB and the police’s focused military operations, intensified information operations, and local peace engagement that pressured the leadership and members of these former rebels pushing them to voluntarily surrender. While the active implementation of the programs of GCTF-ELCAC encouraged other members to return to the folds of the law, according to the Army.
Pasaporte said the rebel returnees will be assessed by the social welfare staff to determine the assistance that will be provided to them.
An activity was held at the covered court of Barangay Poblacion, wherein nine alleged former rebels who also surrendered on March 29, 2022, were presented, along with the 16 new surrenderers.
During the activity, the rebel returnees denounced their support to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA-National Democratic Front (NDF) by rendering the “Panumpa sa Kalinong” led by Guihulngan City Mayor Filomeno Reyes, chairperson of Guihulngan City Task Force-ELCAC.
A prayer and candle lighting for the victims of NPA atrocities and human rights victims, as well as a symbolic burning of the NPA flag, were also held. Officials also released white doves as a symbol of peace, unity, and freedom from the NPA threats.
The activity culminated with the dispersal of 25 heads of goat and 25 sacks of fertilizers which were provided by GCTF-ELCAC through the City Agriculture Office, the distribution of 25 boxes of hygiene kits from the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO), and assorted used clothes from city officials and volunteer organizations in Guihulngan City.