By Francis Wakefield
Nineteen members of the Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) returned to the folds of the law on the day of its founding anniversary, March 29, 2019.
The CNTs yielded to the combined efforts of the local government of Sultan Kudarat, the Sultan Kudarat Provincial Police Office, and the Philippine Army’s 33rd Infantry (Makabayan) Battalion, 6th Infantry (Kampilan) Division and 39th Infantry Battalion of the 10th Infantry (Aguila) Division.
The 19 former rebels also laid down 13 high powered firearms, explosives, and various ammunition. They are from the various CNT units operating in the provinces of Cotabato, Davao Del Sur, Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato provinces.
“Their surrender on the very day of the NPA’s supposed founding anniversary is a very clear indication that its ranks continue to decline due to the relentless efforts of the troops on the ground to hunt them down while providing space for them to peacefully surrender”, Col Efren Baluyot, the Brigade Commander of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade, said.
Colonel Adonis Bajao, the 1002nd Brigade Commander; Maj. General Jose Faustino, Commander, 10th Infantry (Aguila) Division; and Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Commander, 6th Infantry (Kampilan) Division, lauded the accomplishment.
“The surrender of these CNTs shows that the localized peace negotiations led by the provincial government of Sultan Kudarat is very effective," Sobejana said.
"This is also a clear manifestation that those who were duped by the NPA in joining their ranks have realized that government cares for them and that they are welcome to join the peace loving people of Sultan Kudarat," he added.
Sobejana said the surenderees will receive livelihood assistance, payment for the surrendered firearms as well as housing through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP). The program is under the supervision of Sultan Kudarat Province under Governor Pax Mangudadatu.