GENERAL SANTOS CITY-- Government troops captured eight alleged members of the New People's Army (NPA) while another has surrendered in a series of operations in the hinterlands of Alabel town in Sarangani Province.
Col. Tyne BaAas, commanding officer of the Army's 1002nd Brigade, said the rebels were separately arrested following clashes between troops under the 73rd Infantry Battalion (IB) and the NPA's Front 71 on February 6, 8 and 11 in Sitios Tangis and Silutan, Barangay Datal Anggas in Alabel.
Six of the captured rebels were formally presented to media late Monday afternoon in a press conference at the Kasfala Hall in Alabel.
They were identified as Simeon Salda, Jun Moda, Claude Palbe, Garzon Palbe, Rene Ompao and Sabelo Colano. The two others were identified as Nonoy and Moreno Salaman.
Seized from the rebels were five Garand rifles, two M-16 Armalite rifles and a Carbine rifle.
Also presented was a surrenderer identified only as an alias Kaloy, who reportedly served as spokesperson in the NPA's recruitment activities among the Tagakaolo tribe in parts of Sarangani.
BaAas said the 73IB launched the combat operations based on a directive from the Armed Forces of the Philippines following the termination of the unilateral ceasefire with the NPA by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
He said they were also in response to an attack staged by NPA rebels last Jan. 29 on troops securing a government road project in the outskirts of Alabel.
Lt. Col. Marion Angcao, 73IB commanding officer, said they don't consider the captured rebels as enemies but "victims of the NPA."
He said most of them were new recruits of the NPA and were only duped into joining the group due to promises of monetary benefits.
Following the declaration of the government's unilateral ceasefire in July last year and the opening of the peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front, he said they monitored "heavy recruitment activities" of the NPA in the area.
"Kung tutuusin, sila, wala talagang kasalanan (In truth, they did not commit any wrongdoing). They were victims of the deception by the enemy. That's why they are being treated well," Angcao said.
In the three encounters with the NPA, he confirmed that one trooper was wounded but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Davao City.
He said they are currently verifying reports of casualties on the side of the rebels.(PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency