BAGUIO CITY � A total of 17 more members and supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army voluntarily surrendered to joint elements of the military troops and the local police of Rizal, Cagayan on Feb. 11, the Division Public Affairs Office (DPAO) reported on Tuesday afternoon.
DPAO chief, Captain Jeffrey Somera, said the rebels yielded to the 17th Infantry Battalion (17th IB) under the 5th Infantry Division (5ID) and the local Police of Rizal town.
The 17IB has jurisdiction over five barangays of Apayao province in the Cordillera and the whole of Cagayan Valley region.
Somera said the surrender was facilitated by Rizal Vice Mayor Joel Ruma.
He identified the surrenderers as residents of Barangay Masi, Rizal, Cagayan.
He said of the 17 who surrendered, three belonged to the Militia ng Bayan (MB), the armed territorial element in the barangay.
According to 17IB Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Camilo Saddam, the mass surrender is attributed to the aggressive information dissemination about the government's programs to aid the rebels and their supporters to again embrace the law and be assisted to live peacefully.
Somera relayed Saddam's statement, saying the people in the area were already spilling the names of their companions.
We expect more batches of surrenderers in the coming days, since the first group had already convinced their relatives to surrender as well, he said.
In a statement, Brigadier General Perfecto Rimando Jr., 5ID commander, commended the effort of Vice Mayor Ruma in assisting his constituents on the right path.
In our effort to finish the insurgency and terrorism in our country, what we need are government officials and people who have the courage to stand for righteousness, just like Vice Mayor Ruma, Somera said.
"The support of the local government units to our focused military operations is really a big factor in legitimizing our action on the ground, he added.
A couple of days ago, five militiamen from the same barangay surrendered to the 17IB after the government troops discovered a large rebel camp not far from the same village. The troops also encountered around 10 rebels around noon of Feb. 10, a day before the mass surrender, in the same barangay.
Source: Philippine News Agency