82 rebels, supporters surrender in Masbate
By Mar Arguelles
SOME 82 suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels and their supporters have surrendered to military authorities in Masbate on Saturday, Dec. 12, the Army 9th Infantry Division (9ID) public affairs office said.
Capt. John Paul Belleza, 9ID Public Affairs Office (DPAO) chief, said the surrenderees bring the total number of communist rebels and supporters operating in Masbate who have so far surrendered to 111.
The surrenderees include: nine NPA regulars, 40 members of the Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad (SPL) and 33 members of the Militiang Bayan (MB).
Those who surrendered turned over 15 firearms composed of six .38 caliber handguns, three homemade shotguns, two .357 pistol, a .45 caliber, a 9mm handguns, a carbine and, a improvised handgun.
The surrenderees were presented to officials of the Masbate Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (MPTF-ELCAC) and the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) at the government Half-way house in Masbate City.
They were given gift packs as an early Christmas presents by the provincial government of Masbate.
Belleza, in an interview, said the rebel returnees aside from the cash, livelihood, housing, medical and educational assistance from the E-CLIP committee, can also avail of the various programs and benefits from the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC).
Enlightened about the deceptions of the rebel movement, the former rebels will now undergo the process of reintegration to the mainstream society.
Lt. Col. Siegfried Felipe Awichen, commander of the 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB) based in Masbate, commended his troops for going above and beyond the call of duty, which contributed significantly to this accomplishment.
Meanwhile, 903rd Infantry Brigade commander BGen. Noe Alberto Peñafiel, expressed his gratitude for the Bicolanos’ active participation in the government’s campaign towards sustainable peace and development.
Joint Task Force Bicolandia (JTFB) under MGen. Henry A. Robinson, Jr., stressed that this new batch of surrenderees who chose the path of peace is a great manifestation that the government’s peace and development efforts are being implemented successfully thereby creating conflict-free and resilient communities.
“This massive snowball of returnees to the folds of the law will not be the last. Aside from our intensified focused military operations, collaborative efforts between the government and the local populace, the hardships these former members experienced inside the terrorist group led them back home”.
“Ang inyong pagbabalik loob ay lubos na magbibigay saya sainyong pamilya lalo na ngayong kapaskuhan. Itong gift giving ay tanda ng taos-pusong pagtanggap ng gobyerno sa inyong pagbabalik-loob. Tanda rin ito na kayo ay hindi dapat matakot o mangamba dahil handa ang kasundaluhan na kayo ay protektahan at tulungang makabalik ng mapayapa sa lipunan. Thus, we are confident that soon, the insurgency will finally reach its total extinction and Bicolanos can live in a much peaceful region,” Robinson said.