Sorsogon – Sixty five (65) rebels formally surrendered in the government and were presented in a ceremony held in 903rd Infantry Brigade based in Castilla, Sorsogon.
Of the mass surrenderees, 38 are regular New People’s Army (NPA) members (35 male and 3 female); 25 are members of Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad (20 male and 5 female) and 2 are from Milisyang Bayan, all of Larangan 1, Komiteng Probinsya 3 of Bicol Regional Party Committee.
Also surrendered were two carbines, six M16 rifles, two caliber .45 pistols, two Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), two molotov bombs, six VHF radios, assorted ammunitions and magazines for high powered firearms.
Joint Task Force Bicolandia (JTFB) under MGen Fernando Trinidad AFP considers the event as one of the significant accomplishments of the intensified Community Support Program (CSP) of the Philippine Army.
CSP teams are deployed in different conflict-affected Barangays to identify the services the residents need and at the same time discourage them to join or support the communist terrorist group (CTG).
Executive Order No. 70 which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte December last year further enticed the rebels to go down upon knowing that a lot of government agencies are ready to help them in re-establishing their lives outside the armed movement through Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) also known as Task Force Katuninongan asin Kauswagan.
“Sana po simula sa araw na ito, magtulungan tayong lahat para sa magandang bukas ng Sorsogon. Hindi lamang po ito para sa amin, para rin po ito sa mga tao ng Sorsogon. Ang gusto lang po namin ay makatulong para maging maayos ang peace and order ng Sorsogon,” Gen. Trinidad added.
[Let us help each other starting today for the better future of Sorsogon. This is not just for us but most importantly for the people of Sorsogon. All we want is to help in maintaining the peace and order in Sorsogon.]
Caloy who was one of the surrenderees emotionally thanked the government for giving them a chance to start their lives anew.
According to him, “Tuwang-tuwa po ‘yong pamilya ko na sumurrender na po ako. Sila talaga ang unang-unang naghikayat sa akin lalo na ‘yong asawa ko na tumigil na nga ako sa pagtatago sa bundok.”
[My family is very happy that I finally decided to surrender. They really encouraged me, especially my wife, to stop hiding in the mountains.]
Meanwhile, the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) Aida Alcantara assured the former rebels that their office is ready to give them the assistance they need.
“Kung kami po sa local government ay may kakulangan pa, sisikapin po naming makumpleto pa ang ibinibigay namin sainyo habang ang ibang ahensya ay tumutugon din po sa kanilang obligasyon o role sa programang ito,” Aida Alcantara, Provincial Social Welfare Officer of Sorsogon said.
[If the services of the local government is still not enough, we will do our best to complete it while the other government agencies are playing their roles too in this program.]
Rebel returnees will be immediately enrolled in the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
Under E-CLIP, they will be given livelihood and housing assistance as well as firearms renumeration.
Witnessing the ceremony were JTFB’s Commander, MGen Fernando T Trinidad AFP, Col Noe Alberto Q Peñafiel, Brigade Commander of 903rd Infantry Brigade and other officers of JTFB.