DAVAO CITY – Thousands of communist rebels and their supporters have surrendered to the military in the first quarter of this year in southern Philippines and more are expected to yield in the coming months to take advantage of the government’s amnesty offer, officials said Friday.
Army Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Garcia, chief of Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Public Affairs Office, said more than 4,350 New People’s Army rebels and communist supporters have actually surrendered to the military and that majority of those who yielded were from the regions of Davao and CARAGA, which are all known NPA strongholds in Mindanao.
“The massive surrenders of NPAs and their supporters were attributed to the combined focused military operations, intelligence efforts, civil-military operations, re-integration efforts, peace and development programs of the military and police; and the intense campaign of local governments in convincing their constituents who are members and supporters of the NPA to go back to mainstream society,” Garcia said.
“The AFP expects more surrenders as former rebels and supporters divulge corruption and deception inside the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the NPA. Revelations from former rebels during investigations disclosed that most of them were deceived into believing the propaganda and false promises of their leaders,” he added.
Major Ezra Balagtey, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City, said over 300 rebels, including 17 commanders, had surrendered to them during the first quarter as the government continues its campaign to lure insurgents to return to the fold of the law. Aside from those who yielded to the military, at least three dozen New People’s Army leaders and fighters have also been arrested in separate operations.
He said some 240 assorted rebel weapons were also recovered by soldiers in the first three months of the year. “We are expecting more to surrender in the region,” Balagtey said.
Army Lieutenant General Benjamin Madrigal Jr, the regional military commander, has attributed the mass surrender of rebels to the extensive combat operations and intensified community support programs, and also the call of President Rodrigo Duterte for insurgents to return to the fold of the law and live peacefully with their family.
“We attribute this to the extensive security operations being conducted by our units to protect the communities. Furthermore, being popular in all strata and sectors of the country, the call of the President for the NPA to surrender reverberates and continuously sinks into the minds of the rebels which greatly contributes to the snowball of surrender including some of their leaders,” he said.
The NPA has been fighting for nearly 5 decades now in an effort to overthrow the democratic government and install a Maoist state in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)
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