HARD LIFE NO MORE. A former New People’s Army (NPA) lady fighter receives her share of food assistance from a Department of Social Welfare and Development worker as soldiers and local officials look on during surrender rites in Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat province, on Aug. 28, 2022. Four other NPA members surrendered on the same day. (Photo courtesy of 6ID)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – Five members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) have surrendered voluntarily to authorities in Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat, claiming military offensives made their lives miserable in the mountains.

“The government is like a father who welcomes his child despite his decision to go against his family, the government welcomes back all its citizens who wish to live normal lives,” said Lt. Col. Frederick Chicote, Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion (IB) commander, in a statement Monday.

The rebels surrendered to the 7IB headquarters in Barangay Kapaya, Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat, on Sunday afternoon. They turned in  rifles with ammunition.

Aside from Chicote, the surrenderers were welcomed by Col. Tom Tuzon, Sultan Kudarat police provincial director, and John Lebiga, the Sultan Kudarat Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) focal person.

“Life has been hard in the mountain, especially with government forces pursuing us,” one of the surrenderers named “Sheena” said.

Major Gen. Roy Galido, 6th Infantry Division (ID) commander, lauded the operating troops for providing a venue for peace for communist rebels who wish to live normal lives.

"So far, 114 communists have surrendered to our troops, including their weapons, and 11 have been neutralized since January this year,” he said.

Galido said the 6ID and the government remain open to welcoming NPAs who wish to peacefully surrender. (PNA)