MANILA – A total of 10 "hardcore" members of the communist movement from the Bicol Region vowed to restart new lives and pledge allegiance to the government.
The former rebels, whose names were withheld for security reasons, made this commitment and surrendered high-powered firearms and explosives during the "Serbisyo Caravan" in Barangay Payatas, Quezon City on Wednesday, organized by various government agencies, including the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).
The rebels surrendered their firearms, burned the NPA flags and pledged their allegiance to the government.
Speaking at the event, NCRPO chief Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo renewed his call to sympathizers of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) to re-embrace democracy and avail of the government's assistance.
“Unti unti na nating nararamdaman ang epekto ng programa ng ating Chief PNP (Philippine National Police) Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. ang MKK=K kung saan ang isang sangkap na kapayapaan ay magbubuo ng tunay na kaunlaran sa ating bansa na siya din namang pangarap ng ating Pangulong (Ferdinand) Bongbong Marcos (Jr.). Naniniwala din ako na ang maayos at matibay na ugnayan sa ating mga komunidad ay daan para mapanatili ang katahimikan sa ating rehiyon (We are gradually feeling the impact of the program of our Chief PNP, the MKK=K, where a component of peace will create true development in our country, which is also the dream of our President Bongbong Marcos. I also believe that good and strong relationships with our communities are the way to maintain peace in our region),“ Estomo said.
Estomo also called for the support of the community in ensuring peace and order in Metro Manila.
"Hindi lingid sa atin na ang programa, terorismo at hindi lamang sa gobyerno, kung hindi maging sa buhay ng ating mga kasapi ng ating barangay at pamilya, puspusan ang ating pamahalaan, ang inyong kapulisan na magsagawa ng mga programa upang masugpo ang paglaganap ng terorismo sa ating bayan (We are steadfast in implementing the program which is meant to rid terrorism and other crimes in our country)," he added.
Barangay Payatas, where the ceremonies were held, is one of the identified priority barangays under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
Estomo warmly welcomed the returnees and facilitated their renunciation of membership and support to the CPP-NPA by taking their oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines.
The rebel returnees also shared their testimonies, regarding the deceitful promises and bitter experiences they had inside the movement.
Estomo said these rebel surrenderers already sent feelers way back when he was still the director of the Police Regional Office 5 (Bicol).
He said when the surrenderers learned of his reassignment as NCRPO chief, they pursued their plan to surrender and lay down their arms.
“Kaya tuloy tuloy po ang ating panawagan sa iba pa nating mga kababayan na nariyan pa sa mga kabundukan o kahit nandito man sa siyudad na ang NCRPO ay bukas bente kwatro oras upang sila ay aming tanggapin (That's why we continue to call on our other countrymen who are still there in the mountains or even here in the city that the NCRPO is open 24 hours so that we can accept them),” Estomo noted.
Meanwhile, the inter-agency “Serbisyo Caravan” hosted by the National Intelligence Commission Agency together with the Department of Health, Department of Trade and Industry, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and the Department of Labor and Employment brought basic services closer to residents of the community.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist group by the Philippines, United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
Secure martial law anniversary protests
Meanwhile, PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said police officers have been advised to exercise maximum tolerance on protesters as the country commemorates the 50th anniversary of the declaration of martial law.
"Our Chief PNP's order is to exercise maximum tolerance. Once these protesters have secure permits, just like the case of those holding protests in Quezon City, we will allow them to proceed with their activities. But we will also secure those who will join lightning rallies and protest actions to ensure their safety,” Fajardo said in a press briefing at Camp Crame, Quezon City.
She said the NCRPO deployed around 5,000 cops across the region to secure rallies and deter crimes in places of public convergence. (Anne Lorraine Bustamante and Irish Marie Caidoy-trainees/PNA)