An entire People’s Army (NPA) unit surrendered to government forces on Christmas Day in Agusan del Sur, an Army official said on Dec. 26.
Brig. Gen. Andres Centino, commander of the Army’s 401st Infantry Brigade based in the Agusan del Sur town of Prosperidad, said the 19 NPA surrenderers consisted of team leaders and regulars who decided to leave because of corruption within the rebel group.
Before their surrender, Centino said a rebel commander named Mark initially sent feelers indicating “they can no longer endure the corruption in the CPP-NPA.”
Centino is referring to the Communist Party of the Philippines, the organizational arm of the NPA which celebrated its 50th anniversary on Tuesday. Both are singularly lumped as a terrorist organization by Washington and Brussels.
In addition, the Army official said the NPA surrenderers also cited “inconsistencies in their propaganda and action, while some of them can no longer endure the continuous operations of the military.”
Centino said the surrenderers belong to the NPA’s Guerilla Front 3 and the Pulang Bagani Command 4 operating in the boundary of Agusan and Compostela Valley provinces.
When they yielded in the Agusan del Sur town of Loreto, the rebels brought with them several high-power firearms including an M203 rifle, six M16 rifles, one, M653 rifle, an M14 rifle, and two grenades.
“They also brought with them, three radios and more than a thousand ammunition of M16 and M14,” Centino said.
Maj. Gen. Ronald Villanueva, commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, welcomed the surrender of the NPA combatants and urged the remaining rebels to come down and live normal lives.
“Our lines of communication are also open to those who wish to take this opportunity to abandon the armed struggle and violence perpetrated by the CPP-NPA-NDF and embrace a life of peace and prosperity with their family,” Villanueva said, referring to the National Democratic Front, the NPA’s political arm.
Centino said the surrenderers are undergoing custodial debriefing and processing as of posting time.
On December 23, three insurgents also surrendered in Bukidnon province, and one yielded in Agusan del Norte the following day.