ILIGAN CITY – New People’s Army (NPA) fighters surrendered to the military on Friday, September 25, and turned over a substantial number of high-powered weapons in Barangay Guibo, Siaya, Zamboanga del Norte.
The former rebels, who surrendered to the 97th Infantry Battalion (97th IB), led the military to the location of an arms cache composed of a caliber-.50 sniper Barrett rifle, an M79 grenade launcher, six AK47 rifles and numerous magazines and ammunition.
According to 97th IB Commander Lt. Col. Manaros Boransing, the former rebels were mostly members of Main Regional Guerilla Unit (MRGU), which is a special unit of the NPA in Western Mindanao.
“The revelation of arms cache was made after their custodial debriefing. They’ve also shown their sincerity by guiding our troops to the location of firearms”, said Boransing.
“They are notorious in conducting tactical offensives, extortions and atrocities, armed with high caliber firearms that were used to scare locals in the communities that were not supporting them,” added Boransing.
One of the rebels, a certain Ronald, disclosed that they chose to surrender because the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic had already taken its toll on them.
“Our food, medicines and other supplies were affected by COVID-19. We were hungry in the mountains, and we weren’t able to beg food due to relentless military operations”, said Ronald in the vernacular.
Brig. Gen. Leonel Nicolas, 102nd Infantry Brigade commander, stressed that the troops treated the former rebels with utmost care, and have earned their trust and confidence which led to the revelation of the location of the arms cache.
“We are very thankful that these former rebels who were also victims of wrong ideology are now collaborating with us now and already denounced the arm struggle to achieve a brighter future for them and for their families.” Nicolas said.
First Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Generoso Ponio commended the troops for their accomplishments, and the former rebels for their revelation of the arms cache.
“Your dedication and efforts led to this significant accomplishment. The series of encounters, numerous NPA surrendered and firearms captured, significantly degraded the armed capability of our enemy”, said Ponio.