COTABATO CITY: A total of 71 New People’s Army (NPA) members, militiamen, and mass base supporters withdrew their support to the communist terrorist group on Sunday and took their oath of allegiance to the government during ceremonies in Barangay Salansang, Lebak, Sultan Kudarat.
Out of the total number, three were regular NPA members, eight members of the “Yunit Militia”, and 60 mass base supporters.
Lt. Col. Clairemont Pinpin, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Battalion, said all were affiliated with the NPA West Daguma Front that is undermining the peace and order situation in Sultan Kudarat.
The majority of them are indigenous peoples (IPs) who were duped to join the NPA rebels with a promise of a better life and land ownership.
Pinpin said they were recruited by Leon Tacduro alias “Paeng”, who was the head of Regional Peasant Bureau of the NPA Far South Mindanao Region and education head of the Sub-Regional Command (SRC)-Daguma.
Tacduro was previously arrested by the combined government forces of 6IB and Lebak municipal police last March 16, 2020, at Sitio Kipopo of Barangay Keytodac, also in Lebak.
“The IPs were unaware of Tacduro’s true nature when they were blindly recruited to be part of the politico-military-structure of NPA in Lebak until they were alarmed after his arrest,” Pinpin said in a statement.
“This is the very reason for their voluntary withdrawal of support from the group and sworn their allegiance to the government for them to live normally and peacefully,” he added.
The apprehension of Tacduro greatly affected the operations of the SRC-Daguma as their mass supporters were redirected and their plans on establishing mass bases were revealed and hampered.
The surrender activity was witnessed by Lebak Mayor Frederick Celestial, Sultan Kudarat Peace and Order Council Vice-Chairman Booy Bevelyn Zapanta, Sultan Kudarat Board Member Joseph Ortiz, National Commission on Indigenous People Provincial Officer Timuey Macapanto Manamba, and Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative Florencio Apang.
Major Gen. Diosdado Carreon, commander of Army’s 6th Infantry Division, lauded the 6IB for facilitating the surrender of 71 individuals.
Carreon, who is also head of the Joint Task Force Central, has appealed to other members to also come down and surrender as the government is open to those who seek peace.
The local government of Lebak provided the surrenderers with initial assistance courtesy of the Department of Social Work and Development including farm equipment to start anew in their communities.
The NPA, together with the Communist Party of the Philippines, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
(With a report from Noel Punzalan/ PNA/ Edwin Fernandez/ SRNY/ RSP)
Categories: Region 12