WOUNDED. Military physicians attend to a New People's Army rebel, one of two who surrendered in Zamboanga del Sur on Friday (July 8, 2022). The rebels were injured during a clash with government forces in Barangay Saad, Dumingag town on July 4. (Photo courtesy of Army 53IB)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Two wounded New People’s Army (NPA) rebels surrendered to government authorities amid the continued combat operations in Zamboanga del Sur, military officials said Saturday.

Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, the Army’s 53rd Infantry Battalion (IB) commander, identified the NPA surrenderers as Nelyn Ayas (alias Ka Clara) and Jebbie Labito (alias Ka Yuri).

They surrendered Friday, four days after they figured in a 15-minute firefight with the 53IB and 44IB troops in Barangay Saad, Dumingag town on July 4.

Ayas and Labito were members of the defunct Main Regional Guerrilla Unit of the NPA’s Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee.

They were brought to Zamboanga del Sur Medical Center in Pagadian City.

A militiaman was also injured during the clash.

Herrera said the surrender is proof of the government's effective strategy against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA in the province.

“We encourage their comrades, those still in the hinterlands, to lay down their arms and return now to the fold of the law,” Herrera said in a statement.

Brig. Gen. Leonel Nicolas, Army's 102nd Infantry Brigade commander, said the two will be taken care of, regardless if they were enemies of the state forces.

“Your Army will always remain professional in handling and processing our former rebels. In the case of Clara and Yuri, we will ensure that they will be medically taken care of and protected,” Nicolas said in another statement.

They will be enrolled in the government's Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), which includes P15,000 immediate cash assistance and PHP50,000 livelihood assistance.

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)