BACK TO THE FOLD OF LAW. Some 52 members of the communist terrorist group, including one commander, surrender to the authorities following a peace engagement and community consultation in Barangay Bianoan, Casiguran, Aurora on Thursday (June 23, 2022). The National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, in collaboration with other security forces, facilitated the surrender of a commander of Domingo Erlano Command and 51 members of Militia ng Bayan. (Photo by Jason de Asis)

BALER, Aurora – At least 52 members of the New People's Army (NPA), including a commander, have voluntarily surrendered to the authorities in this province on Thursday.

The National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), in collaboration with other security forces in this province, facilitated the surrender of a leader of the Domingo Erlano Command and 51 members of Militia ng Bayan under the NPA following a peace engagement and community consultation in Barangay Bianoan, Casiguran town.

In an interview on Friday, Maria Luisa F. de Guzman, NICA regional director and head of the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, Situational Awareness and Knowledge Management (SAKM) Cluster Region 3, lauded the surrenderers for disassociating themselves from the CTG.

De Guzman cited the need for concerted efforts to be able to address the needs of the former rebels.

“It is not only the government will work but their cooperation will provide a wider array of benefits based on their particular needs through the help of various national and local government agencies,” she said.

She also encouraged the surrenderers to create an organization as it will help fast-track delivery of their benefits including immediate cash assistance, livelihood assistance, and a reintegration program, among others.

“The continued withdrawal of support and disaffiliation of various groups formerly allied with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) is a testament that more and more want to join the government in peace efforts. They have seen and realized that more could be achieved when they work with the government, and live in a just and peaceful society. All of us aspire for this. Not only for ourselves, but for our children and all future generations as well,” she said.

Col. Julito S. Lizardo, provincial director of Aurora Police Provincial Office, thanked the residents for condemning the CTGs and helping the government attain inclusive peace and development in the province.

“Let us support the government program and remind you to reject the legal fronts or party-list groups fielded by the different communist legal front organizations such as Bayan Muna, Kabataan Party-list, Gabriella, and Alliance of Concerned Teachers, among others who recruited our children to become NPA. Do not support them in the next election. These legal fronts have been the source of funding and recruitment of the underground groups. They do not want peace and development,” Lizardo said.

The surrendered rebel leader who was a commander of the Komiteng Larangang Guerilla's (KLG) Aurora provincial party committee, requested anonymity and said that it is high time to end the deceptions and lies of the communist rebel group and their legal front organizations.

He recalled that Domingo Erlano was born in Barangay Bianoan where the provincial party committee of the CTG was known as the Domingo Erlano Command of the NPA.

“Ka Erlano was already dead. We were recruited because of the deception, lies, and exploitation of the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front) and its legal front organization. I am encouraging everyone to end armed conflicts. Let us help our government. We should stop their recruitment,” he 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.

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