Two communist-NPA rebels rewarded upon surrender in Central Mindanao

BUTUAN CITY -- The government’s campaign against the dwindling communist movement in Central Mindanao has gain another strategic victory after two hard-core Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) bolted their mountain camp and gave themselves voluntarily to the authorities.

In return, a Central Mindanao town mayor gave them rewards, a military officer reported Tuesday.

“These former rebels were very happy to embrace the government again and vowed to help our peace and development program,” said 5th Special Forces ‘Primus Inter Pares’ Battalion commanding officer Capt. KrisJuper Andreo J. Punsalan, in a phone interview with The Manila Bulletin on Tuesday, July 5.

He said the municipality of T’boli’s newly elected Mayor Keo Dayle T. Tuan awarded cash assistance amounting to P20,000 each to these two hard-core CNTs who surrendered through the joint efforts of the 6th Civil Military Operations Battalion, 7th Infantry Battalion, 11th Special Forces Company, 5th Special Forces Battalion (5SFBN) and the Philippine National Police on Saturday, July 2, at Barangay Edwards, T’Boli, South Cotabato, in Central Mindanao region.

The provincial Joint AFP-PNP Intelligence Committee (JAPIC) validated the rebels as ‘Ka JL,’ former political guide and ‘Ka Ratrat,’ an NPA in the Barrio (Milisyang Bayan/ Yunit Milisya/Local Guerilla Unit) of Platoon Brigol, Guerilla Front 73, (now Guerilla Front Musa) Far of the CPP-NPA South Mindanao.

They also yielded one caliber .30 m1 Carbine rifle, one caliber .45 Thompson sub-machine gun and one International Humanitarian Law (IHL)-banned anti-personnel landmines.

“Both rebels belong to the T’boli tribe operating in the boundaries of South Cotabato, Saranggani and Sultan Kudarat provinces. Their identities were withheld for security reasons,” Capt. Punsalan said.

Quoting the statement of Mayor Tuan, Capt. Punsalan said that he will continue the programs of his father, former Mayor Dibu S. Tuan that are anchored in the National Task Force Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and Executive Order No. 70 to maintain the continuous peace, order, and development of T’Boli town through the continuous delivery of basic and social services to the far-flung and isolated sitios of T’Boli and the continuous implementation of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) to help the rebels return to their families, communities and mainstream society.

“As the newly elected mayor, one of my priorities is the peace, order and security of our town because we would like more investors to come in and further develop our town as the premiere agricultural, ecological and cultural tourism destination in South Cotabato. Violence, terrorism and criminality has no place here in our tribal municipality,” said Capt. Punsalan, quoting the statement of Mayor Tuan.

It can be recalled that from October 2021, a series of combat encounters in Lake Sebu and T’Boli transpired which resulted in the neutralization of ‘Ka Jenrose,’ the deputy secretary of Guerilla Front MUSA and three other CNTs and the influx of surrenders of regular CNTs and NPA in the barrios, Capt. Punsalan said.

T’boli Local Government Unit serves as one of the towns of South Cotabato that has best practices in the implementation of the Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) and E-CLIP as mandated by the EO 70.

Meanwhile, the ex-rebels were also presented to Brig. Gen. Pedro C. Balisi Jr, commander of the 1st Mechanized Infantry (Maaasahan) Brigade and Maj. Gen. Roberto Capulong, commanding general of the 6th Infantry Division (6th ID) and Joint Task Force Central.