By Mike Crismundo
CAMP BANCASI, Butuan City – The area command chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Mindanao on Tuesday urged the remaining members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) to “surrender now while there is still time”
“Yield peacefully while there’s a chance,” said Maj. Gen. Felimon T. Santos, Jr, area command chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMincom).
The AFP EastMincom chief called on the remaining members of the CPP-NPA who are still running in the mountains of Agusan, Surigao and Compostela Valley provinces, including in some parts of Davao Region, Bukidnon and North and South Cotabato to surrender peacefully while there is still a chance for them to live normal lives.
“We call on our peace-loving communities also to continue to assist and help our field units by helping the NPAs who want to surrender and be part of our quest for peace which everyone is longing for,” stressed Maj. Gen. Santos.
The AFP EastMincom chief made this statement after seeing the exodus of CPP-NPA members and supporters who voluntarily gave up in Surigao del Norte, North Cotabato last week.
The AFP Eastmincom has already received 938 regular members of the NPA through its various field units.
Based on its records, Eastmincom already received a total of 1,217 Militia ng Bayan members and 434 Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad–NPA’s community-based support groups–and 8,932 mass supporters, from January 2018 to early February this year.
Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Franco Nemesio M. Gacal, commanding general of the Army’s Northeastern and Northern Mindanao 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division (4thID) also on Tuesday said that more former rebels are coming out and are being processed by the military and the local government units as the 4th ID embarked on a “peaceful war.”
The 4th ID commander reiterated the army’s “peaceful war” approach in addressing the multi-dimensional nature of communist terrorism. “This approach is aimed at ‘combating’ or solving the socio-economic issues in remote villages being exploited by the communist terrorists,” he said.
“Peaceful war is not literally ‘war’ through the use of military weapons, but it is a unique form of warfare sans violence, through the delivery of social services by government and non-government entities,” Brig. Gen. Gacal said.
He said the “peaceful war” will eliminate the reasons for rebellion and bring lasting peace and sustainable economic growth”.
In a ceremony last week, the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) Committee of Misamis Oriental, co-chaired by Gov. Yevgeny Vincente B. Emano and 403rd Infantry Battalion Commander Col. Edgardo De Leon, handed over start-up financial assistance for livelihood amounting to P65,000 each to 31 former NPA regular members, most of whom are from IP communities in the various parts of the Northern Mindanao region.
The former rebels surrendered to the government, effectively regaining protection provided by the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), the 4th ID chief added.
Under President Duterte’s Administrative Order No. 10, the inter-agency Task Force ‘Balik-Loob’ was created to administer the E-CLIP program to expedite the government’s reintegration efforts for former CPP-NPA members.