Army claims 22 rebels operating in 3 provinces surrender
LUCENA CITY—The military on Thursday, Oct. 17, announced what it said was the surrender of at least 22 New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas, lured by a Duterte administration program dangling cash, housing and scholarships launched in the wake of the collapse of peace talks between the government and communist rebels.
Capt. Jayrald Ternio, head of the public affairs office of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, said the guerrillas had operated in Quezon, Laguna and Rizal provinces under the NPA’s Guerrilla Front Cesar.
Ternio, in a report, said the 22 guerrillas also turned over 10 firearms, ammunition and materials for making landmines.
The surrender followed negotiations between the rebels and military and police representatives. No details of the negotiations were given but it appeared to be part of the Duterte administration’s tack to initiate localized peace talks in lieu of talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and key rebel leaders.
Ternio said the surrendered rebels were being given “custodial debriefing.”
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is determining the rebels’ needs, profiling and counseling them.
Col. Alex Rillera, head of the Army’s 202nd Infantry Brigade, said in the report that rebels were surrendering as a result of the “whole-of-nation” strategy to bring an end to the insurgency which President Rodrigo Duterte wanted done during his term which expires in 2022.
Brig. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr., head of the 2nd ID, said rebels continue to surrender which would lead to an end to the insurgency in the provinces of Rizal, Quezon, Batangas and Laguna.
The surrender, Burgos said, “signals the eventual and inevitable collapse of insurgency.”
Reports earlier this year cited military and police intelligence reports as declaring the dismantling of the NPA unit operating in Batangas and Cavite provinces.
The military and local officials had also declared the provinces of Cavite, Marinduque, Romblon and Laguna as “insurgency-free.”
Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, head of the Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command, called on other rebels to lay down their arms and surrender, too.
Gapay said they stood to enjoy the benefits of the government’s E-Clip program which offers livelihood financing, scholarships, housing and free legal assistance to rebels who would give up the armed struggle to bring genuine land reform and justice to remote areas where government presence is hardly felt.
It wasn’t clear how the military arrived at these figures but Solcom said as of the second quarter of 2019, 385 rebels operated in Southern Tagalog region and 314 in Bicol. Delfin T. Mallari Jr./TSB
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