9 NPA members in Misamis Oriental surrender to the Philippine Army

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 23, 2021   •   1477

A former NPA member leads the military to a stash or firearms.

Nine members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Misamis Oriental have surrendered to the Philippine Army.

The former rebels were members of the sub-regional committee of the NPA in North Central Mindanao Regional Command. They also surrendered 14 high-caliber firearms.

One of the rebel returnees, identified as alias Marga, said that lack of food pushed them to surrender to the government. She said there were times when 40 members had to share one can of sardines. They were also forbidden to visit their families.

Magpapaalam ka nang maayos, hindi ka papayagan. Kaya iyong iba naming kasama kadalasan talaga umuuwi nang hindi nagpapaalam dahil sa ganyang kalagayan, hindi ka papayagan. Wala kang kalayaan o demokrasya, (You will not be allowed to go home even if you asked properly. Because of it, some would just leave without permission. There is no freedom or democracy),” she said.

According to Lt.Col. Ricky Canatoy, commanding officer of the 58th Infantry Battalion, the combined efforts of the Philippine Army and the government contributed to the increasing number of returning rebels.

“Military action alone will not be enough to achieve or maintain long-term peace; engagement from line agencies, notably from local government units, is essential. Because of the close linkages among government agencies, hostile manpower and firearms have been steadily reduced,” he said.

The rebel surrenderers will receive financial and livelihood assistance under the Enhance Comprehensive Local Integration Program of the government.

Military, police uncover NPA arms cache in Masbate

Marje Pelayo   •   September 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Government troops have seized a bulk of war materiel in Masbate province as they continue to hunt down New People’s Army (NPA) terrorists.

On Monday (September 20), government authorities received information from residents in Aroroy about the suspicious materials left behind by the communist rebels in their area.

Responding to the tip-off, elements of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) immediately verified the report.

The troops were able to capture the following:
– one M16 rifle;
– two magazines;
– assorted ammunition;
– one plastic bag containing ammonium nitrate which is the primary component in making anti-personnel mines;
– a dynamite;
– one roll of detonating cord.

There were also some personal belongings along with the said arms haul.

Lt. Col. Siegfried Felipe Awichen, Battalion Commander of 2IB, hailed the vigilance of the Masbateños for the discovery of the war materiel. The public cooperation just proves that the NPA can no longer hide even their firearms.

Meanwhile, Col. Aldwine Almase, Brigade Commander of 903rd Infantry Brigade, said the capture of these firearms is a manifestation of the continuously deteriorating capabilities of the terrorist group especially in the province of Masbate.

“Iniiwan na lang nila ang mga armas nila kasi wala ng magbibitbit dahil kulang na ang kanilang mga miyembro gawa ng sunod-sunod na mass surrender sa Masbate. Muli naming pinapaalalahanan ang naiiwan pang mga miyembro ng komunistang terorista upang sila ay sumuko at magbagong buhay,” Almase said.

Police BGen. Jonnel Estomo, Regional Director of Police Regional Office 5 (PRO-5), commended the public’s support which makes the campaign of the government to make Masbate armed conflict-free attainable.

“Hindi po namin makakamit ang sunod-sunod na tagumpay na ito kung wala ang suporta ninyong mga Bicolano,” PBGen. Estomo concluded.

Pregnant rebel returnee recalls ordeal inside the NPA

Marje Pelayo   •   August 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A rebel returnee who goes by the alias “Marga” recalled her experiences in the hands of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Now seven months pregnant, Marga said the rebel group has no regard for the welfare of its members even to pregnant women like her.

Wala gyud ma atiman ang ilang mga tao samot na sa mga buros. Lisod gyud kaayo kay walay pagkaon. Usahay mukaon mi, sa usa ka sardinas, kwarenta kabuok ang magbahin bahin. Mao na ang among kasinatian,” she said in her local dialect.

[Translation: They don’t take care of their people even the pregnant ones. Life was tough due to the lack of food. There were times when 40 people had to share a can of sardines. That was our experience.]

Marga and eight other rebels recently surrendered to authorities.

They were presented by the 58th Infantry Dimalulupig Battalion in a press conference at 58IB Headquarters in Sitio Migbanday, Brgy Poblacion, Claveria, Misamis Oriental on Thursday (August 19).

During the press conference, a total of 14 firearms were also presented, six of which were surrendered while the other eight were recovered during the retrieval operation of 58IB troops at the hinterlands of Barangay San Luiz, Malitbog, Bukidnon.

The former rebels received livelihood assistance under the government’s “Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP)” which helps former rebels rebuild their lives after returning to the folds of the law.

The assistance to Marga and her other companions included financial aid of P5,000 each, food packs, hygiene kits, sleeping kits, cooking kits, and P10,000 cash aid from the Department of Social Welfare and Development Region X (DSWD-10).

According to the accounts of the surrenderers, they had wanted to quit the organization for a long time due to the hardships and hunger. However, they were always held back by their leaders.

When the opportunity presented itself, they took it without hesitation.

Sobejana bows out of military service; Faustino assumes post

Maris Federez   •   August 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Cirilito Sobejana relinquished his post in a Retirement and Change of Command Ceremony on Saturday (July 31).

An AFP statement released Saturday said Sobejana bowed out of service as he reached the mandatory retirement age of 56, after spending over 38 years in the military.

Sobejana who is a Medal for Valor recipient, has been replaced by LtGen. Jose Faustino, the current commander of the Joint Task Force Mindanao, the statement said.

“My tenure as the 55th Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has truly been full of challenges and trials; but together with more than the 200,000-strong men and women of the AFP whose tenacity, strength, and heart have made us overcome all odds,” Sobejana said in his farewell speech.

He also expressed his respect and gratitude to all the personnel in the military forces for their invaluable service.

“I have only the highest respect and admiration for our soldiers who have, and continuously, dedicated the best years of their lives in the name of public service. Sa lahat ng sundalo ng ating Sandatahang Lakas, taas-noo at buong puso ang aking pasasalamat sa inyong walang katapat na serbisyo,” he added.

Sobejana spent most of his military career in Mindanao where he commanded different AFP units as he rose the ranks since graduating from the Philippine Military Academy in 1987.

Prior to his stint as the AFP Chief of Staff, Sobejana assumed the post of Army Commanding General and the Commander of the Western Mindanao Command.

In May 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte bestowed him the Award of Philippine Legion of Honor (Degree of Officer), for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service rendered to the Philippine government, particularly to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

He received another Philippine Legion of Honor (Degree of Chief Commander) for “laudable and meritorious conduct in the performance of his duties as the 55th Chief of Staff,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, incoming AFP Chief of Staff LtGen. Faustino called on the men and women in the military to stay united and committed to providing service to the country.

“It is my belief that the true measure of a Filipino soldier is not in the badge or rank we wear, not about the position we attain or appointed to. It is the loyalty and integrity of every man and woman serving the AFP that will keep us going in the right direction,” Faustino said.

“As I embark on this new journey with each and every one of you belonging to Team AFP, allow me to say to every soldier, airman, sailor, and marine– let us stay positive on the course ahead, bind together as one family, commit with open minds, participate actively, work towards the attainment of our shared goals, develop good ideas and innovate to suit our domain,” he added.

Prior to his designation as AFP chief, Faustino was appointed as the Commander of JTF Mindanao in June, following a successful stint as the Acting Commanding General of the Philippine Army.

A member of the Philippine Military Academy “Maringal” Class of 1988, he likewise had been Battalion and Brigade Commander in Western Mindanao particularly in Basilan and Sulu, the statement said.

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