At least 31 New People’s Army (NPA) rebels surrendered on Wednesday to government authorities in Maasim town, Sarangani province.
Brig. Gen. Michael John Dubria, director of the Police Regional Office (PRO)-12, said Thursday the former rebels, including 15 unit leaders, decided to lay down their firearms following a series of negotiations with police and Army personnel in the area.
Dubria said the returnees were all members of the NPA’s Guerilla Front 73-Far South Mindanao Region, which operates in the hinterland areas of Maasim, Kiamba, and Maitum towns.
“Based on our validation, 15 of them held key or ranking positions in their former units,” he told reporters, adding the returnees include unit commanders, vice commanders, platoon leaders, and squad leaders.
Dubria said the returnees brought along at least 20 assorted high and low-powered firearms and various doctrinal documents.
He said Sarangani Gov. Steve Chiongbian Solon has committed to provide the necessary assistance to the rebel returnees.
They will also receive additional support packages from Maasim Mayor Zyrex Pacquiao and Sarangani Rep. Rogelio Pacquiao, he added.
One of the surrenderers, only identified as “Joni,” said in an interview they decided to surrender because of the increasingly difficult situation in the mountains, compounded by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s a losing situation for us, we were given promises of certain benefits but they never materialized,” the former rebel said in the vernacular.
Dubria said they will endorse the surrenderers for inclusion into the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.
“We are always open and ready to assist other rebels who want to return to the government and their communities as well as reunite with their families,” he added.
Source: Philippines News Agency