By Francis Wakefield
Two long-time members of different units of the New People’s Army’s Sub-regional Committee 4, Southern Mindanao Regional Command surrendered through the Balik-Loob Center of the Army’s 60th Infantry Battalion’s Bravo Company in Kapalong, Davao del Norte on Monday.
Alias “Liza,” 21, a resident of Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte and member of the Ata Manobo Tribe was recruited and taken as wife by a Guerilla Front Commander back in 2012 when she was only 15 .
According to the military, Liza was a former medic and supply officer of Guerilla Fronts 33 and 34 and was also able to join DGF 3 and PBC 4. She was involved in numerous encounters with government troops and has been conducting recruitment and propaganda works in various areas.
Liza decided to lie low last April due to her pregnancy with her fourth child. While on lie low, however, she was convinced by one of their Tribal Bagani Leaders to surrender to 60IB which she eventually did after giving birth to her child. Liza said she decided to surrender so she can provide her children better lives.
Meanwhile, Alias “Roca,” 59, a resident of Barangay Suaon, Kapalong, Davao del Norte and also a member of the Ata Manobo Tribe, was formerly with the NPA’s PBC 4 but were also involved with Guerilla Fronts 35, 34 and 55, and the White Area Committee in Surigao City. He spent over 26 years with the communist group.
According to Roca he has wanted to separate from the group for some time already but, unable to read and write and find himself a decent job, he was forced to stay. Despite having spent almost three decades with the NPA, Roca said he knew he wasted his life for unnecessary struggle and regrets allowing them (NPA) to use him in destroying the community.
Due to his age, Roca can no longer join his group in tactical operations and his illiteracy meant he has little value in their ideological, political, and organizing works as well.
Roca’s surrender was facilitated by Davao-based, non-government organization, H.O.P.E. (Humanitarian Organization for Peace Engagements), led by Hope Fernandez.
The surrenders of both Liza and Roca are attributed to the successful counter-organizing and stakeholder engagement efforts of 60th IB.
Liza was not the first rebel returnee whose surrender was facilitated by the tribal leaders in the area. And Roca’s being assisted by a NGO is another proof of the many ways the rebels can reach out if they want to return to the folds of the law.
60th IB Commander, Lt. Col. Gilbert Ombos, reiterated the government’s call for members of the NPA to surrender now and take advantage of the many programs and opportunities especially designed for them. Balik-loob centers are now open in selected sites within the 60th IB Area of Operations to cater to surrendering members of the NPA
With this, Major General Noel S. Clement, the Commander of the 10th Infantry Division commended troops’ accomplishment.
“This is one of the reasons our government continue to accept NPAs who want to surrender so that they will be free from CPP-NPA-NDF injustice and terrorism,” Clement.
“Alias Liza and Roca made the right decision of surrendering to the government. Like their experience, communist-terrorist’s ideology only destroyed the life of their members and denied them of the opportunities to live life to the fullest. Once enrolled to Enhanced- Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), Alias Lisa and Roca can start a new peaceful and productive life,” Clement added.