WITHDRAWAL OF SUPPORT. Former communist rebels from central Negros burn the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army flag during their surrender rites at the 62nd Infantry Battalion headquarters in Barangay Libas, Isabela, Negros Occidental on Sunday (Dec. 26, 2021). Eight rebels turned their backs on insurgency on the day the CPP marked its 53rd anniversary. (Photo courtesy of 303rd IBde, Philippine Army)

BACOLOD CITY – Some eight New People’s Army (NPA) rebels surrendered to authorities in central Negros on Sunday, coinciding with the 53rd anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

In a report on Monday, the Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade (303rd IBde) said insurgents based in the cities of Guihulngan and Canlaon in Negros Oriental were presented in rites held at the 62nd Infantry Battalion (62IB) headquarters in Barangay Libas, Isabela town.

Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, commander of 303rd IBde based in Murcia, said it was a “big slap” on the faces of CPP leaders.

“It contradicts their claim that more are joining their group and indicates that the CPP-NPA has lost the support of the people in Negros Island. The return of the eight to the fold of the law marks the end of their bondage from the exploitation, lies, and deception of the NPA,” he added.

According to the 62IB, the NPA rebels did not have any firearms when they surrendered.

“They said they have been deceived into joining the NPA. The salary and ownership of land promised to them did not happen,” a statement read.

The 62IB said those who surrendered admitted the Covid-19 pandemic made it more difficult for them to collect funds and their situation was made worse by the recent devastation brought by Typhoon Odette.

Pasaporte said they expect more NPA rebels to leave the armed struggle soon.

During the rites, the surrenderers burned the CPP-NPA flag to formalize the withdrawal of their support and affiliation with the communist terrorist group.

They also lit a candle, said a prayer for peace, and released white balloons which they said symbolize hope and unity among Negrenses.

Afterwards, they received Christmas gift bags and food items from the 303rd IBde and the Joint Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict of Central Negros.

Pasaporte witnessed the event together with Maj. Alenel Valles, officer-in-charge executive officer of 62IB; Lt. Col. Roland Lavisto, chief of the Guihulngan City police; Lt. Col. Miguel Andeza, acting police chief of Canlaon City; and other members of the Local Peace Engagement Cluster.

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.

The Anti-Terrorism Council also formally designated the National Democratic Front as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and separate part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973. (PNA)