A “disgruntled” member of a New People’s Army (NPA) unit operating in the South Cotabato province hinterlands surrendered to government troops on Tuesday, November 11, 2021.
Following a series of negotiations, the rebel, according to 1Lt. Krisjuper Andreo Punsalan, commanding officer of the Army’s 11th Special Forces Company, yielded voluntarily along with his firearm in Barangay Edwards, Tboli town.
Punsalan said the returnee, named only as “Kat-Kat” for security reasons, is a former member of Platoon West, Sub-Regional Committee Musa of the NPA-Far South Mindanao Region.
The rebel surrendered a US M1 .30-caliber Carbine (folding stock) rifle bearing serial number 1339557, with one magazine and three rounds of ammunition.
According to Punsalan, alias “Kat-Kat,” a member of the Tboli-Tasaday tribe, surrendered mostly so he could live a regular and tranquil life with his family.
Punsalan added that former cadres were also encouraged by the national government’s attempts to address their communities’ needs through service caravans and other convergence initiatives launched by Tboli’s Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC).
“(That) became a factor in his decision to surrender because he realized that the government is a partner and not an enemy of their tribe,” said Punsalan.
According to alias “Kat-Kat,” he was enticed into joining the NPA by fraudulent promises made by its leaders.
He later discovered, like other members of his tribe, that he had been duped by the “communist terrorist group.”
“They promised that if I fight the government, my family and I can have a better life but it did not happen,” he said.
Tboli Mayor Dibu Tuan stated the surrender of alias “Kat-Kat” shows that their Task Force ELCAC’s ongoing outreach efforts and supply of basic services in the area’s conflict-affected communities have been successful so far.
He expressed the hope that more NPA fighters, particularly those from Tboli and other local indigenous groups, would surrender and join the government’s reintegration efforts.
“This will help us achieve a conflict-free and more developed municipality in the years to come,” he said.
Punsalan stated that the local government, through Mayor Tuan, provided the surrenderer with immediate cash assistance of P10,000 and two sacks of rice. He added that they will help the latter join in the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
According to him, alias “Kat-Kat” may be qualified for firearms remuneration, livelihood help, deradicalization interventions, and other similar support programs.
This year, the Army’s 5th Special Forces Battalion helped 73 former NPA insurgents in South Cotabato obtain various aid through the E-CLIP.
According to Punsalan, local government units provided emergency and reintegration help to the former rebels, as well as firearms remuneration and livelihood incentives.