By Mike Crismundo
BUTUAN CITY – Change has come as the 1,204 former New People’s Army (NPA) members and supporters participated in the reorientation program conducted by the Army’s 71st Infantry (Kaibigan) Battallion (71st IB) and local government unit (LGU) in Anibongan Gym, Barangay Anibongan, Maco, Compostela Valley (ComVal) province on Monday (April 2).
First Lt. Jhocell D. Asis, Civil Military Operation (CMO) officer of the 71st IB, said on Wednesday. that the reorientation program aims to bring the government closer to NPA members and supporters in far flung communities and reorient them back to the mainstream of the society.
She said the reorientation program was participated in by identified members of NPA’s Underground Mass Organization (UGMOs), Former Rebels (FRs) and supporters from eastern line barangays of Maco namely Barangay Sangab,, New Visayas, Magangit,, Concepcion, Taglawig,, New Asturias, Lapu-lapu,,Dumlan,, Anibongan,, Mipangi, and Libay-libay.
Participants were given a chance to voluntarily surrender and clear their name as NPA members and supporters through series of interviews and validations conducted by the Philippine Army and PNP personnel in the area, the 71st CMO officer added.
Present during the activity to speak about the various programs and services of the government and call for mass surrender were Col. Erwin Bernard L. Neri, commanding officer of the Army’s 1001st Infantry Brigade; Maco town Vice Mayor Voltaire Carlos R. Rimando; ComVal Province Police Provincial Office Director Sr. Supt. Marvin Manuel P. Pepino; Lt. Col. Esteveyn E. Ducusin, commanding officer of 71st IB; Maco town chief of police Ins. Gomersendo L. Diwata II; and Jonathan J. Leybag, Maco Municipal Local Government Operation Officer (MLGOO).
After the different messages delivered by the speakers, the participants were given a chance to ask questions regarding their doubts and fears to surrender and were answered accordingly by the concerned government official.
The activity culminated with the commitment of the participants to denounce their allegiance to the NPA terrorists. Further, Lt. Col. Ducusin thanked as well as congratulated the participants for actively engaging in the call for mass surrender and reorientation program.
The 71st IB commander explained the need to surrender and avail the government’s peace and development program.