Some 15 individuals believed to be sympathizers and members of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), willingly surrendered earlier this week to government troops in Roxas municipality.
Col. Jimmy Larida, commander of the 3rd Marine Brigade (3MBde), claimed they were among roughly 30 NPA trainees seen in the hinterlands of Sitio Karatong, Barangay Tinitian in Roxas town on October 13, when three were captured, including a pregnant 14-year-old.
“Sila na yon. Actually, 30 nga sila na nagtra-training. Yong sa ibang huts, nakatakbo na bago pa dumating yong ibang tropa. Mabuti at nag-surrender na sila — yon naman ang gusto namin na mangyari, mag-surrender sila peacefully kasi tutulungan naman sila,” Larida told Palawan News in a phone call Wednesday.
“Yong 15 na yon ay galing sa revelation ng dalawang menor de edad na nahuli na nakasama nila sa training,” he added.
He said the event marks another success in the government’s “Whole-of-Nation” approach to end the local communist armed conflict in the province.
A statement released Wednesday by the Marine Battalion Landing Team-3 (MBLT-) under the command of Maj. Ryan Lacuesta claimed their voluntary surrender on October 25 was facilitated by their unit under Joint Task Force-North (JTF-North) and Joint Intelligence Task Unit-North (JITU-N) of the 3rd Marine Brigade (3MBde) and the Western Command (WESCOM) in cooperation with the barangay officials of Tinitian, Roxas municipal police force, and the Municipal Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (MTF ELCAC)
The MBLT-3 said their surrender was an offshoot of the “strong teamwork” among military and police units, MTF ELCAC, and the local communities. It also occurred less than a week after two surrendered on October 22, 2021, in Brgy Jolo, also in the town of Roxas.
It claimed they were recruited to the NPA on August 17 and September 4, 2021, but surrendered freely after learning they had been deceived by the communist organization.
“Tumigil na sa pamumundok ang mga grupo at bumaba na sila, makiisa at makipagtulungan sa pamahalaan. Dapat bumaba na sila para matahimik na ang buhay nila. Sana maisipan nila na lahat bumaba para walang nadadamay na mga inosenteng tao sa mga karahasan at panlilinlang na ginagawa nila,” said a certain Jojo, who was a “kandidatong kasapi” (KK) or candidate member of the NPA.
Another surrenderee, Linlin, who is a minor, claimed that living in the mountains is tough and that the wisest choice for the remaining members to do is surrender and return to the folds of the law.
The two and 13 other surrenderees swore an oath to restore allegiance to the government at Tinitian’s barangay hall also on October 25.
“Ang masasabi ko ay talagang malulungkot at magsisisi ka kapag nandoon ang mga anak mo sa bundok kasama ng komunistang NPA kasi kapag namatay ang mga anak mo ay hindi mo na makikita kung saan nila ibaon ang bangkay nito,” Linlin said.
Meanwhile, Roxas mayor Dennis Sabado said the municipal government is committed to accepting the former rebels and provide them the support they need while their return to their communities is being processed.
“Tiniyak naman ng pamunuan ng Roxas MTF ELCAC sa pangunguna ni Mayor Dennis M. Sabando, katuwang ang Palawan PTF ELCAC, ang bukas-palad na pagtanggap at pag-suporta sa mga dating na-recruit at nalinlang ng CTGs sa kanilang pagbabalik-loob sa pamahalan,” the MBLT-3 statement said.