Thursday, March 29, 2012

45 rebels in Bukidnon surrender

CAGAYAN DE ORO -- Forty-five rebels belonging to three different units of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Bukidnon voluntarily surrendered to the 403rd Infantry “Peacemaker” Brigade last week.

The rebels are set to be presented to Bukidnon Governor Alex Calingasan at the Kaamulan Amphitheater in Malayabalay City, Bukidnon at 2 p.m. today (Thursday).

The rebels reportedly surrendered themselves to Colonel Romeo R. Gapuz, commander of the 403rd Infantry Brigade, in time for the NPA’s 43rd anniversary.

Gapuz said the large number of surrenderees will surely have a negative impact on the NPA’s morale.

“While the NPAs are celebrating their anniversary and flaunting their ‘empty’ successes against the Filipino people, their comrades here in Bukidnon are surrendering and denouncing this rebel group who duped them. Because of this, we believe there will be more NPA rebels who will go down the mountains as they all realize that their government is truly working for the Filipino people,” he said.

Of the 45 NPA rebels who surrendered, 27 are indigenous people belonging to the Umayamnon tribe who were members of the Mamerto Bagani Command under Guerrilla Front (GF) 89.

Guerilla Front 89 is led by Gevion D. Balanban alias “Oto” and “Salin Ubod” operating within the areas of northern Bukidnon and Upper Pulangi.

The other surrenderees belonged to a group led by Rene Mansayluan Dal-anay alias “Taruc” and “Yoyoy” under the Boyboy Roa Command operating in San Fernando, Bukidnon.

The rebels turned over 33 low-powered firearms, five assorted high-powered firearms and several improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Gapuz said the surrender has reduced the total strength and firepower of the NPAs.

“With this number of rebels who just surrendered, GF 89 and GF 6’s total strength and firepower was reduced which has significantly weakened the enemy’s capability to conduct high-impact offensives against the government troops and economic sabotage. 
But even with this noteworthy accomplishment, we assure everyone that the 403rd Infantry Brigade will continue its military operations to pursue other members of the said guerrilla front so that we could finally dismantle this group and free our area from enemy influence and threat,” Gapuz said.

“I also appeal to the local populace to cooperate with us and give us valuable information that is relevant in accomplishing our mission,” he added. 

The surrender was reportedly made possible through the effective working relationship and coordination of the 403rd IB, 4th Infantry Division (4ID), local government of Bukidnon, tribal leaders of Bukidnon, and the Philippine National Police.

Major General Victor A. Felix, commander of the 4ID, welcomed the development as a triumph not only for the Armed Forces and the government but for the whole Filipino nation as well.

“I am glad these rebels have already realized the futility of the ideology they are fighting for and the issues that they have been complaining before were already addressed and answered,” Felix said.

“What is best to do now is for all the stakeholders to continue working for the success of our IPSP (Internal Peace and Security Plan) Bayanihan in order to achieve the lasting peace we have been dreaming of. I encourage everybody to take an active part in this endeavor so that significant development in our country could set in,” he added.

He said the 4ID is happy to welcome their brothers and sisters who have finally decided to return to the folds of the government.

“We know they have led a difficult life while they were still in the mountains fighting against the government. It is about time that they give up their arms and start living a normal life back to their loved ones and families,” Felix said.

The surrenderees will receive financial and livelihood assistance from the province through its local integration program, while other benefits and privileges will still be determined by the Joint Validation and Authentication Committee.

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro/Sunnex | March 28, 2012 | Article Link