NPA rebels, sympathizers yield in Bukidnon

Published February 9, 2018, 10:00 PM

by Mario Casayuran and Vanne Elaine Terrazola

By Mike U. Crismundo and Camcer Ordonez Imam

Camp Bancasi, Butuan City – The government’s relentless anti-insurgency campaign in Northern Mindanao has resulted in the surrender of at least 130 members and sympathizers of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Bukidnon province, the military said Thursday.

Brig. Gen. Eric Vinoya, commanding general of the Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade, said this is a clear sign that the government’s bid to attain peace in far-flung communities in Bukidnon province is drawing near.

Among those who surrendered were two active combatants, 35 members of the Militia ng Bayan, and 93 civilian supporters of the NPA, said Capt. Norman Tagros, spokesperson for the Philippine Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade, a unit of the 4th Infantry Division (4ID). The surrenderees also turned in 34 assorted firearms and an improvised explosive device.

The help of the local government unit (LGU) officials and indigenous people’s sectoral leaders made possible the surrender, Gen. Vinoya said, even as he assured those who surrendered that  they will be provided economic assistance as they start a new life under the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) and capacity development programs of the government.

“The government has prepared CLIP program for them (NPAs) where they receive cash and livelihood assistance, housing and employment assistance,” said Vinoya.

Tagros said the rebels and their sympathizers surrendered to the First Special Forces Battalion in Sumilao town, in Bukidnon, on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018.

“More surrender fellers are being received by our field units and (they) are expected to yield any day,” claimed the 403rd IB  spokesperson.

Bukidnon province has at least four guerrilla fronts of the CPP-NPA operating in the hinterland areas of Bukidnon, particularly in Calabugao Valley, Mount Kalatungan and Mount Kitanglad.

Some of these guerilla fronts are operating in the provincial border of Caraga region and Bukidnon.

On Thursday, the 403rd Brigade received 35 members of the NPA Militia ng Bayan (MB) and 93 mass-base supporters.

 Bukidnon encounter ‘inaccurate’

 CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The Philippine Army has branded the New People’s Army (NPA) terrorists’ earlier release to the media on the alleged encounter with government troops where 13 troopers were reportedly killed and six wounded as inaccurate.

“No troops were killed. But we have six wounded with minor injuries during the encounter last February 6, at Brgy. Cawayan, Quezon, Bukidnon. According to their medical records, they are all stable and recuperating at Camp Evangelista Station Hospital in Headquarters, 4th Infantry Division (4ID), at Cagayan de Oro City.” Lt. Col.Randy Remonte, commanding officer of 88IB, said.

The 4th Infantry Division also said that the NPA terrorists were “desperate for support” that they released information to media in Northern Mindanao through the NPA terrorists’ spokesperson, Ariel “Inda” Magbanwag, on February 8, 2018.

“The NPA terrorists are very desperate to inflict casualty on our troops and very desperate for support that they need to appear strong within their ranks, which is the main reason they resort to information prevarication during encounters. They give false hope to the lowest element in their ranks due to the influx of surrenderees in Bukidnon. Let us not be deceived by the propaganda. Your Army will not stop in crushing these terrorists, may it be even in exchange for our own lives.” Major General Ronald Villanueva, commander of 4th Infantry Division, said.