Seven more “disgruntled” New People’s Army (NPA) combatants, including a unit leader, have surrendered to police personnel in Sarangani province following a series of negotiations.
Col. Lex Ephraim Gurat, Sarangani police director, said the rebels voluntarily yielded, along with at least four firearms, in Maasim town on Maundy Thursday with the help of local leaders.
He said the surrenderers, who were presented to local officials and the media on Friday, were led by Ruben Guimba alias “Ben”, team leader of Squad 1, Brigol command of the NPA’s Guerilla Front 73 (Musa) – Far South Mindanao Region.
The six others were identified as Talino Mad alias “Tan-tan”, Joel Alejo alias “Longhair”, Artoy Alejo alias “Arpie”, Marilou Edelgado, Jerbem Sakay, and Carlos Rosiana alias “Esmael”.
Gurat said the rebel returnees surrendered an M16 Armalite rifle with two magazines loaded with 20 ammunition, an M1 Garand rifle with a defaced serial number, a caliber .45 pistol loaded with seven bullets, and a home-made shotgun.
“They initially sent surrender feelers to our personnel and we followed it up until they decided to formally give up and return to the fold of the law,” he said in an interview on Friday afternoon.
Citing the initial debriefing conducted on the returnees, Gurat said they mainly decided to surrender due to the difficulty of their situation in the mountains and uncertainty of their cause.
He said they were enlightened after seeing for themselves and proving the “false promises” given by their leaders when they were recruited.
Maasim Mayor Zyrex Pacquiao, who received the returnees, said in a statement that the local government would process their inclusion into the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.
The program provides rebel returnees with livelihood and other assistance through the convergence of various government agencies.
On Friday, the mayor released an undisclosed initial financial assistance to the seven surrenderers.
Pacquiao urged the remaining active rebels in his area to surrender and avail of the government’s reintegration program, as well as join the efforts to promote peace and “end the local communist armed conflict.”
“Rest assured that the government is here to assist you should you decide to lay down your arms and lead normal lives with your families,” he 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. (PNA)