NPA COUPLE SURRENDERS. A couple identified as ranking members of the New People's Army (NPA) surrenders Tuesday (July 5, 2022) to the  Army’s 97th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Del Pilar in Piñan, Zamboanga del Norte. The couple is welcomed by Brig. Gen. Leonel Nicolas, the Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade commander (left), and Lt. Col. Nolasco Coderos Jr., the 97th Infantry Battalion commander (right). (Photo courtesy of 97IB)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – A ranking New People’s Army (NPA) rebel couple has surrendered amid a continuing government offensive against communist rebels in Zamboanga del Norte, a military official said Wednesday.

Lt. Col. Nolasco Coderos Jr., commander of the Army’s 97th Infantry Battalion, said Benedicto Granada and his wife, Gina, surrendered Tuesday night at their headquarters in Barangay Del Pilar, Piñan municipality.

Benedicto was the deputy secretary of the defunct NPA Guerrilla Front Big Beautiful Country (GF BBC), while his wife, Gina, acted as front secretary.

Coderos said the couple was convinced to give themselves up after all the remaining NPA groups in the Zamboanga Peninsula had been dismantled.

“This is a result of our continuous military operations to pursue the remnants of dismantled NPA groups in our area of operations,” Coderos said.

He said the couple was subjected to medical examination following their surrender.

In April this year, Zamboanga del Norte was declared “insurgency-free” by a resolution of the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

Coderos said the couple is placed under the protective custody of the Army while they undergo debriefing. Their enrollment in the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) has also been processed.

ECLIP is a government program that aims to help members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and Militia ng Bayan to restore their allegiance to the Philippine government.

Through the program, the former rebels are reintegrated back into the community, be with their families, and start over.

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 inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973. (PNA)