By Edwin Fernandez
CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao: Some eight members of the Manobo Dulangan indigenous peoples community in Sultan Kudarat province, who claimed to have been promised support for their families in exchange for joining the communist New People’s Army (NPA), surrendered to the military on Thursday.
Lt. Col. Romel S. Valencia, Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion (7IB) commander, said the surrenderers also turned in 13 firearms and three explosives during the surrender rites in Barangay Masiag, Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat.
Aley Danyan alias Ka Dandan, the leader of the surrendering group, said they belonged to the Platoon My Phone of the NPA East Daguma Front South Regional Command–Far South Mindanao Region.
He added that they were recruited to join the NPA with the promise that the organization will provide support to their families.
“I have been with the NPA for several years as sub-leader but it did no good to my family. The NPA promised to support my family but it remained a promise until now,” Danyan said in the vernacular in a phone patch interview.
“We left our families for a useless cause. Now I am thankful that 7IB helped us to surrender and start a new life with our families,” he added.
The surrendered firearms and explosives include eight 12-gauge shotguns, two .22 caliber rifles, one Carbine rifle, one .38 caliber revolver, one 12-gauge homemade pistol, two hand grenades, and one improvised explosive device.
“Let us move forward to end this long decade of insurgency for the future of our next generation,” Valencia said in a separate phone interview by reporters here.
The former NPA combatants received initial assistance from Bagumbayan Mayor Jonallete de Pedro who also endorsed the returnees to the Sultan Kudarat provincial government for their inclusion in the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program of the government.
Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander, lauded the 7IB and other stakeholders for saving the lives of the IP members.
“Through the support of the local government units, it enabled the government troops to successfully encourage the NPA combatants in Sultan Kudarat Province to return to the folds of the law,” said Uy, also concurrent head of the Joint Task Force Central.
He called on the remaining members of the NPA to abandon their armed struggle and start a peaceful and sustainable life with their families.
The NPA, together with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
(Philippine News Agency)