5 NPA rebels surrender in Zambo Norte

ZAMBOANGA CITY — Five New People’s Army (NPA) rebels surrendered to authorities amid the continuing military offensives against communist guerrillas in the province of Zamboanga del Norte, officials said Wednesday.

The five NPA surrenderers have turned over eight anti-tank improvised explosives, a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) and a caliber .30 M1 Garand rifle when they surrendered Tuesday to the Army’s 97th Infantry Battalion (IB) in Manukan, Zamboanga del Norte.

“The surrender of the five NPAs is a product of the fruitful information dissemination that encouraged them to return to folds of the law and we will help them enroll and benefit with the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) of the government,” said Lt. Col. John Andrada, 97th IB commander.

Col. Leonel Nicolas, Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade commander, said they continue to gain grounds as “our relentless military operation in our area pressured them to surrender.”

“With their surrender, we hoped that they can encourage some of their comrades to follow their path for them to benefit the programs of the government,” Nicolas added.

Maj. Gen. Roberto Ancan, the Army’s 1st Infantry Division and Joint Task Force Zampelan (the Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao Provinces) commander, lauded the troops and the local government for the successful surrender of the five NPAs.

Ancan attributed the rebels’ surrender to the “sterling leadership” of the Regional Task Force-to End Local Communist Armed Conflict-9 (RTF-ELCAC-9) and Provincial Task Force-ELCAC (PTF-ELCAC) of Zamboanga del Norte.

He assured that they will continue to work together with all government instrumentalities and stakeholders to defeat the NPA and attain just and sustainable peace in Western Mindanao.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, said they stand firm in bringing about safety and security within the area of operation of Westmincom.

“While we intensify our operations in critical areas, we are more than willing to facilitate and encourage peaceful mechanisms to address the security concerns in Central and Western Mindanao,” Sobejana added. (PNA)