Five disgruntled New People’s Army (NPA) rebels willingly surrendered to the 23rd Infantry Battalion (23IB) in the hopes of improving the lives of themselves and their families through government programs and services.
The move was hailed by 23IB commander Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo, who said the five former NPA warriors could no longer bear the Communist Party of the Philippines’ exploitation, deception, and deceptive propaganda (CPP).
“They appeared exhausted and fatigued when they voluntarily surrendered at our headquarters in Barangay Alibuhid, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte. They also indicated their refusal and disinclination to continue with the hopeless armed struggle being espoused by the CPP and its armed wing, the NPA,” Paulo said on Saturday.
On Friday, the five NPA rebels formally surrendered.
Alias “Alex,” 34, Alias “Brando,” 25, Alias Dave, 24, Alias Sam, 19, and Alias Kaduyag, 51, were combatants for the NPA’s defunct Guerrilla Front (GF) 4A of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC).
“The surrenderers are regular members and remnants of the dismantled GF-4A (DGF4A) of NCMRC attached to the 3rd Platoon led by a certain Crisanto Ligayna, alias Tazar,” he said.
Las Nieves, Buenavista, Nasipit, Carmen, and sections of Butuan City in Agusan del Norte, as well as Magsaysay and Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental, are all served by the GF-4A.
On May 10, 2020, the GF-4A suffered a devastating defeat in a battle near the border of Agusan del Norte and Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental. The skirmish resulted in the deaths of 15 of the front’s fighters, including its top leaders, resulting in the front’s collapse.
“(A) series of surrenders also took place, not only among its regular fighters but also the underground mass supporters in communities after the May 10, 2020 encounter,” Paulo said.
According to the accounts of the five surrenderers, the remnants of the front are having difficulty reclaiming their regions and are suffering from hunger and weariness as their mass base has been cut off following the series of surrenders, he added.
One of the surrenderers, Alias Brando, said he took a break after the front sustained tremendous losses, not just in military actions but also in a series of mass supporter surrenders.
“After my rest, I decided to join the group to surrender to the 23IB to clear my name and to change the direction of my life and my family. I now pledge my support to the government,” Brando was quoted as saying in a separate statement issued by the 23IB on Saturday.
According to Paulo, the surrender represents yet another significant blow to communist terrorism in the 23IB’s operational regions.
On July 21, six NPA rebels who were also GF-4A remnants surrendered to the unit.
“We continue to encourage the remnants of the dismantled GF-4A to abandon the armed struggle and seek freedom. The unit is ready to help them leave behind their lives as outlaws and experience a better life under the fold of the government,” he said.
Paulo went on to say that the unit is taking strict efforts to prevent the remaining NPA rebels from carrying out recovery activities or recruiting new members.
The United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines have all designated the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group for its five-decade violent struggle against the government.