34 NPA rebels yield to Army in North Cotabato

By Edwin Fernandez

April 10, 2018, 8:34 pm

ARAKAN, North Cotabato -- As the military intensified its offensives against communist rebels operating in the borders of North Cotabato and Maguindanao, 34 rebels decided to surrender to the Army’s 19th Infantry Battalion in adjacent Magpet town.

With their firearms and determination to live normal lives, the rebels renounced communism and vowed to work for their families and for the government after their surrender ceremonies in Magpet on Monday.

Two of the surrenderees, Fidel Sicao and John Manumba, handed over two M16 rifles to Lt. Col. Ehrlich Noel Paraso, 19th Infantry Battalion commander. They also turned over several rounds of ammunition, magazines and homemade explosives.

Army offensives, hardship, hunger and health problems forced the rebels to come down and surrender, according to Sicao, a former member of NPA Pulang Bagani Command (PBC) 3 operating in the borders of North Cotabato, Bukidnon and Davao provinces.

He told Paraso that the NPA leadership and armed fighters are actually a bunch of opportunists and does not really care for the masses, especially the Indigenous Peoples.

"We are glad that these former rebels have finally found courage to lay down their firearms,” Paraso said. “This proves the futility of the NPA’s communist ideology that proclaimed to have won the masses in the countryside…the reality is the opposite.”

The military is now taking actions in order to facilitate the surrenderees’ application for the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) so they can avail of financial aid from the government. While the 19th IB is accepting surrenderees, Paraso stressed that military offensives will be intensified against the rebels in the mountains near Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak. (PNA)