3 suspected NPA rebels surrender to gov’t forces, says military
CATARMAN, Northern Samar – Three self-confessed communist rebels have surrendered to government forces, said Brigadier General Mario Lacurom, commander of the 803rd Infantry Brigade.
He said Arnel Aquino and Teny Gerbon belonged to the Special Partisan Unit of the New People’s Army (NPA) while Richard Avino belonged to the NPA’s militia unit.
The three gave themselves up to the 20th Infantry Battalion based in Barangay Opong, Catubig town last Friday, Nov. 24, and turned over three firearms – two .45 caliber pistols and a .38 caliber revolver.
As surrenderees, the three would be enrolled in the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) of the national government and would receive legal and livelihood assistance and other social benefits.
They were also expected to receive similar benefits and cash rewards for the firearms that they surrendered under the Local Social Integration Program (LSIP) of the provincial government.
But the human rights group the Katungod Sinirangan Visayas claimed that the three were “illegally” arrested and detained by 20IB.
Sargie Macallan, Katungod-SV chair in Catarman, said the three should be released because they were mere peasants who were suspected by the military as NPA members.
Last Sunday, three persons who identified themselves as parents of Avina, Gerbon and Aquino went to the Palapag police station to report the supposed abduction of their sons by the military.
Chief Inspector Alex Mendez, chief of police in Palapag, told the Inquirer that the parents were accompanied by a member of the Katungod SV.
But Lieutenant Col. Noli Lapizar, commanding officer of the 20IB, maintained that Avina, Gerbon and Aquino surrendered to their troops.
He said his troops conducted a “legitimate combat operation” in Sitio Canunghan, Barangay Osmeña, in Palapag town, when the three men surrendered.
Lapizar said the three men were now in the custody of the 20IB based in Catubig together with their wives and children.
“Their families went with them because they were scared and were being hunted by the NPA rebels. They are well-taken care of and are staying in individual rooms,” he said. /je
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