LEGAZPI CITY – In just two weeks, a total of 505 members and supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA) yielded to the government in Masbate province, expressing their condemnation of the recent atrocities of the communist terrorist group (CTG).
In a statement on Wednesday, Capt. John Paul Belleza, spokesperson of the Army's 9th Infantry Division (9ID), said the surrenderers comprise a regular NPA member; 221 Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad members; 95 Militia ng Bayan members; 36 from the Barangay Revolutionary Committee; 84 from Ganap na Samahang Masa; 12 from Grupong Pang-organisa sa Barrio; 44 from Grupong Balangay; and 12 supporters from the municipalities of Palanas, Dimasalang, and Mobo, and Masbate City.
“They surrendered from June 18-28, two weeks after the tragic death of Far Eastern University (FEU) football player, Kieth Absalon and his cousin Nolven caused by CTG’s bombing in Barangay Anas, Masbate City,” he said.
Lt. Col. Siegfried Felipe Awichen, commander of the 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB), attributed the continuous withdrawal of support of CTG members and supporters from the Communist Party of the Philippines–New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) to the effective joint operations of the military and police as well as the Community Support Program (CSP) in the identified guerrilla bases in the province's 3rd district.
Through the CSP, residents can openly raise the concerns of their communities to a team that refers these to the concerned government agencies for an immediate solution.
The CSP is now reinforced by the Department of the Interior and Local Government's (DILG) Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) under the Whole-of-Nation Approach (WONA), which rolls out different programs and projects.
Among such undertakings is the Support to Barangay Development Program (SBDP) which funds several developmental projects including the construction of access roads in Sorsogon.
Col. Aldwine Almase, commander of the 903rd Infantry Brigade, believed that if the CTG would continue its terrorism, it would lose all its members who are now guilt-ridden for causing so much devastation on the lives of their victims and their families.
“Their members were only forced to kill and do illegal activities because of the threat by their leaders. That’s why we praise the surrenderers for their bravery in abandoning the CTG and leaving behind the heinous crimes of these terrorist groups against the civilians, government and our country,” Almase said in Filipino.
Maj. Gen. Henry Robinson Jr., commander of the Joint Task Force Bicolandia (JTFB), is confident that positive developments will continue in Masbate after residents have witnessed the wickedness of the CTG.
“This is a good indication that if Masbate, a breeding ground of communist insurgency years ago, can take a stand against CTG and achieve this kind of success, the remaining five provinces of Bicol can do so. Furthermore, to the remaining CTG members especially those who are part of the NPA, SPL and MB, follow the footsteps of these surrenderers. Don’t let yourselves become like Roberto Emaas, an NPA member who was injured and left behind by his comrades and eventually died. Wake up and together, let us unite to make Bicol a peaceful and progressive home,” Robinson said.
He also encouraged Bicolanos to support the WONA, which aims to efficiently deliver basic goods and services to the Filipinos, and promote peace and good governance.
Aside from the mass surrender of rebels and their supporters in Masbate, peace rallies and declaration of the CTG as persona non-grata in various barangays and towns continues -- a manifestation of Masbateños support to the government’s all-out war against the communist insurgency, Robinson said.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)