NPA rebel leader among 4 who surrendered

A NEW People’s Army leader and three members of the Pulang Bagani Command 4 (PBC 4) of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee surrendered following a clash with elements of the 60th Infantry Battalion at Laak, Compostela Valley last Friday (June 23).

2Lt. Amadeuz VJ Celestial, civil-military operations officer of 60th IB, told TIMES yesterday, that while troops are conducting combat patrol at the hinterlands of Special Barangay Katipunan (Barangay Andap), Laak, the combined elements of Delta Company, 72nd IB, and Charlie Company, 60th IB, encountered about 30 rebels under Maximo Catarata alias Datu Makatindog.

There was no military casualty from the clashes. The troops recovered several backpacks and an unexploded landmine at the encounter site.

Three of the returnees revealed that they were, in fact, among the NPA group encountered by the army troops on the morning of June 23.

One of them, alias Noel, surrendered with the help of his neighbor who brought him to a nearby CAFGU Active Auxiliary Detachment for assistance. Noel said he was left behind by his comrades when they scampered away from the encounter site.

He struggled to evade the pursuing army troops but soon decided to surrender. He brought along his rifle and several ammo magazines.

Alias Samano and Mel, meanwhile, surrendered on June 24 to the Charlie Company. Accordingly, the two left their firearms with their remaining comrades and declared that they are going home.

Benjie, who holds a significant position in their unit, said he opted to surrender because of his unit’s “lack of leadership’ and hunger. “We are confused on who is leading us. And besides we are too weak and hungry to go on,” he said in the vernacular.

Another returnee, alias Silay, is the commanding officer of the NPA unit to which Noel, Benjie and Mel belonged. Silay surrendered to the Bravo Company on June 22; the day before his unit was engaged in a firefight with the army units in Laak.

Silay, decided to leave his unit because of failed promise of financial support for his family. He has also been having disagreements with his fellow officers and their food supply has been continuously delayed. “I cannot do it anymore,” said Silay in the vernacular.

Silay also surrendered his firearm, ammo magazines and bullets. He has been with the NPA since late 2012 while the three others are mostly new recruits. All four of them are from the Dibabawon tribe.

A week earlier, seven NPA members from Davao Norte and Compostela Valley surrendered to 60IB. Over 30 others surrendered to 60IB for the first semester of 2017 alone.

Lt. Col. Emmanuel Canilla, 60IB commander, said military operations will continue in areas threatened by NPA.

“Our campaign to end the insurgency shall continue and will only intensify as we reach the point of success. These surrenders are proof that our efforts are gaining momentum and, for as far as our legal mandate can cover, we do not intend to stop.”

Canilla also said the surrenders proved that the NPA is lying to its fighters about being tortured or killed by the military when they yield.

“There have been many instances when our troops on the ground could have just killed these NPA members. But as you can see, they did not. Our soldiers value the life of all our people regardless of belief or association,” he said.

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