REJECTING THE COMMUNIST REBELLION. Some 150 members of the underground mass organization and regular members of the New People's Army burn the flag of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its affiliated organizations, as well as the effigy of rebel leader Joma Sison in Mawab, Davao de Oro on Friday (Sept. 11, 2020). They also signed a persona non-grata declaration against the communist rebel movement. (Photo courtesy of 71IB)

DAVAO CITY – At least 150 members of the communist rebel movement's underground mass organization (UGMO) and regulars of the New People's Army (NPA) surrendered to government forces in the Davao de Oro town of Mawab on Friday, the military said.

In a statement on Saturday, the Army's 71st Infantry Battalion (71IB) said of the 150 surrenderers, 10 were former NPA combatants, 40 were previously affiliated with the communist rebels' Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad, 30 were former rebel militiamen, and 70 were former mass supporters from barangays Andili, Concepcion, Sawangan, and Malinawon, all in Mawab municipality.

During the surrender ceremony, 71IB quoted the testimony of Joy (not her real name), a former medic of the Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda of the NPA's Southern Regional Committee 2, who said she was convinced to join the NPA after being assured of financial support for her two children.

"I have seen that it is a big help since I am a single mother. I joined because they promised monthly financial support of PHP800 each for my two children,” the 71IB quoted Joy as saying in the vernacular.

However, she said she later found out that the support was cut off several months after she joined the NPA, prompting her to return to the fold of the law.

Mayor Ruperto Gonzaga III said he was elated with the participants' positive response to the government's call for them to start anew and live a peaceful life with their families.

Rep. Ruwell Peter S. Gonzaga, congressman of the province's 2nd District, asked the surrenderers to contribute to the peace-building efforts of the government and to "stay loyal to the government."

Lt. Col. Sonny Gonzales, 71IB commander, said peace and order is not just an obligation of men in uniform but is also a shared responsibility of the community.

"Denouncing the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) - NPA and reassuring the government of your loyalty is a good start in attaining genuine peace where the next of our generation will be the ones to benefit," Gonzales said. (PNA)