Two more self-confessed members of the New People’s Army surrendered to Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo at the Capitol in Dumaguete City Thursday.
This is believed to be a result of the relentless operation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to quash the remaining NPA forces in the province and meet the June 2014 deadline to declare Negros Oriental insurgency-free.
Lt. Col. Harold Anthony Pascua, commander of the 79th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, facilitated the surrender of alias Andoy, 20, and alias Renan, 23, both residents of Sta. Catalina town.
The two were members of Squad 3, Sentro de Gravidad Platoon of the South East Front-Komiteng Rehiyon Negros of the NPA.
“Andoy” and “Renan” brought to five the number of NPA members who have voluntarily surrendered to the 79 th IB since Pascua assumed the post Feb. 10.
“Andoy” and “Renan” said in an interview that they left the rebel movement due to its hardships and “sacrifices” and are now want to return to mainstream society.
“Andoy” said he stayed with the NPA for about nine months, and had even carried an M-16 armalite rifle with him. He claimed to have participated in an encounter between the rebels and government troops in Naupao, Sta. Catalina town, at the height of the May 13 elections last year.
“I cannot take it anymore. I am tired. We are always in hiding,” he said as he disclosed internal conflict in the organization.
“Andoy” told reporters he joined the NPA after being promised a better life that would alleviate his family from poverty but, until today, that promise has not been fulfilled. He added that he decided to surrender after hearing reports of other “comrades” whom he identified as Maisa and Sisam as having turned themselves in to authorities earlier.
“Renan” said he was only part of the rebel movement for about two months last year during the election period and decided to lie low afterwards.
While with the NPA, he claimed to have alternated carrying an M-16 armalite rifle and a machine gun. He also participated in two encounters last year, one in Naupao and the other in Bongabong, all in Sta. Catalina, during the election.
“Renan” reiterated “Andoy’s” disclosure of empty promises, and also admitted he got tired of the “tough” life inside the NPA organization. He said the NPA leadership knew of his surrender, and that he left behind the firearms that he had carried before.
Both surrenderees denied participation in the recent encounters between the NPA and the Philippine Army soldiers in barangays Pal-iw and Bahian in Tanjay City a few days back.
Degamo has assured that “Andoy” and “Renan” will be given cash and livelihood assistance under the government’s program for rebel returnees.
He called on other members of the NPA to lay down their arms peacefully, and promised that the national and local governments and the AFP are ready and willing to help them start a fresh life after leaving the rebel movement.*JFP