IT'S A new life for the new year for the two young New People’s Army (NPAs) who are included in the army’s watchlist and chose to surrender on January 9, 2020 to 7th Special Forces “Spartans” (SF) Company under 3rd Special Forces “Arrowhead” Battalion (3SFBn) in Barangay Mararag, Marihatag town this province. They brought along with them one 5.56 M16A1 rifle, one M653 rifle, two long magazines with 86 rounds of ammunition.
Based on the report, both surrenderees are members of the communist NPA terrorists, CNTs’ Weakened Guerilla Front 19 (WGF19), Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC).
Alias John who was only 17-year-old then and alias Dave, who requested anonymity for security reasons, were buddies and both are residents of Barangay Mahaba in Marihatag town.
Alias Julian recruited them in the vicinity of Baliad in Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur. As curious young individuals, they explored and joined the terrorist group but regretted their decision in the end because of miserable experiences. Starvation, exhaustion and the irrelevance of their existence as a terrorist group were factors for their surrender.
They had a chance to quit from the group when they were tasked to plead for food in the far-flungcommunities outside
their guerrilla base. Both became squad leaders and stayed in the group from April to October 2019 and they formally surrendered this year.
“Gutom, pagod at takot sa aming buhay lang ang inabot namin. Mali talaga ang desisyon namin sa pagsali. Kaya nang inutusan kaming kumuha ng pagkain, tumakas nakami at ayaw na naming bumalik,” John said.
It can be recalled that last December 2019, the Marihatag Municipal Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (MTF-ELCAC) hosted a peace dialogue in barangay Mahaba spearheaded by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Surigao del Sur as the lead agency for Poverty Reduction, Employment and Livelihood Cluster. The Enhanced Local Comprehensive Integration Program (E-CLIP) for NPA surrenderees was discussed and disseminated in the community through leaflets distribution and the Community Support Program teams that were immersed in the barangay last year.
Colonel Allan D. Hambala, 401st ”Unite and Fight” Infantry Brigade commander, urged the members of the task force to be more active in delivering the basic services in the conflict-affected areas because the government’s visibility will surely create an impact to disprove the CNT’s promises and will weaken the CNTs’ will to fight which can induce for more surrenders in the future. (By 3rd Special Forces Battalion, PA)