BACK TO MAINSTREAM. The Army's 26th Infantry Battalion welcomes the surrender of 10 New People’s Army rebels Tuesday (August 2, 2022) in Talacogon, Agusan del Sur. The surrender was made possible through the efforts of the different stakeholders in the province under the local task force to end the local communist armed conflict. (Photo courtesy of 26IB)

BUTUAN CITY – At least 10 communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Agusan del Sur surrendered to the Army’s 26th Infantry Battalion (26IB) following a collaborative effort among government and civic organizations.

In a statement Wednesday, 26IB said the surrender of eight NPA regulars and two rebel militiamen in Talacogon town Tuesday was made possible through the unit’s focused military operations and the efforts of the different sectors in the province.

The joint effort that led to the surrender, 26IB said, was undertaken by local government officials and leaders of the Indigenous People under the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC).

It said the surrenderers, who belonged to the NPA's North Central Mindanao Regional Committee, handed over two M16 rifles, an AK47 rifle, a Carbine rifle, two Garand rifles, two KG9 rifles, a shotgun, and an Uzi submachine gun.

Among those who surrendered was a certain Jerwin, a squad leader, who told military authorities that he can no longer endure the  “hardships” within the rebel movement. He also wanted to return to his family.

“For many years, the NPA has brought chaos in our communities and into our lives,” Jerwin was quoted as saying by 26IB.

He added: “We decided to go back to the fold of the law for us to live freely, peacefully, and productively with our families.”

Lt. Col. Sandy Majarocon, 26IB commander, said that by turning themselves in, the 10 former rebels “realized the deceptions of the terrorist NPA movement.”

Majarocon said the surrender was a big blow to the NPA movement in the province, particularly in the areas of operation of the 26IB.

“I call on the remaining NPA rebels in the area to surrender and avail of the services of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program of the government,” Majarocon said.

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