Saying they want to live normal lives with their loved ones, 63 communist rebels surrendered to the military and pledged allegiance to the government over the weekend at Camp Siongco, Maguindanao, the Philippine Army said on November 16, 2020.
“The 63 NPAs are from Senator Ninoy Aquino town in Sultan Kudarat,” said Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID).
The former rebels also turned in 32 assorted firearms and explosives on Sunday afternoon to officials of the 7th Infantry Battalion (7IB) under the 601st Infantry Brigade (601st IBde).
Brig. Gen. Roy Galido, Army’s 601st IBde commander, lauded the local officials of Sen. Ninoy Aquino for helping the Army convince the rebels to surrender.
Galido said the rebels claimed they were tired of running away from government forces and decided to surrender to be with their families this Christmas.
“We were duped, and we just want to go home and be with our families again,” Ka Rex, one of the surrenderers, said in a short interview by reporters in this camp Monday.
Uy had earlier urged local officials in the Soccsksargen Region to declare communist New Peoples’ Army (NPA) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) persona non grata or unwelcome in their communities.
The 6ID commander also vowed to eradicate the communist movement in Central Mindanao before yearend.
“While we are ready to use force, that is our last option when all diplomatic means shall fail,” Uy said, adding that he ordered all Army camps to open their doors for NPA members and supporters who wish to live normal lives.
The former rebels will be enrolled under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program of Sultan Kudarat province, the Army official said.
The NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. (Edwin Fernandez, PNA)