MALAYBALAY CITY, Bukidnon, May 7 (PIA)--Seventeen armed New People's Army (NPA) surrenderers were presented to the press on Tuesday at the First Special Forces Battalion (1SFBn) camp in Mampayag, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.
They turned over eleven assorted guns and rounds of ammunition at the ceremony with the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC) led by Governor Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr, and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Provincial Director Carmelo Enrique Libot.
Governor Zubiri visibly overjoyed to see the new surrenderers, gave each of them P25,000.
Doubly happy was Regional Director Mari-Flor Dollaga of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-10 who shelled out P10,000 and boxes of foodstuff to each of the former rebels.
Like real military men, the surrenderers snappily rose and loudly thanked their benefactors for the bounty they received-a bonanza they never had it so good in their lifetime.
In a press conference, Lt. Col. Vercisio San Jose Jr, 1SFBn commander, said these young NPA regular fighters who were operating under CPP-NPA's Front 68-B, Sentro de Grabidad, Sub-Regional Command 4 have realized that the meaningless guerilla fighting and deceptive communist recruitment in Bukidnon's mountainous communities have only brought intimidation, violence, and socio-economic despair.
Brigadier General Ferdinand Barandon, likewise, emphasized that the Bukidnon Task Force ELCAC through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) and Amnesty Cluster will always facilitate the distribution of the government's aid to those who returned to the folds of the law.
Also present then was 8th Infantry Battalion (8IB) Commander Lt. Col. Edgardo Talaroc Jr, 88IB Commander Lt. Col. Christian James Vingno, and BGen. Maurito Licudine, commander of 402Bde based in Butuan City.
BGen Licudine has large army contingents near the Pantaron range in Bukidnon province.
When asked by the media if December 2021 could mean the end of the NPA, the army's 4th Infantry 'Diamond' Division (4ID) Commander MGen. Andres Centino said that President Rodrigo Duterte wants the conflict solved before he [the President] steps down. That would be in June 2022. He then called on the remaining rebels in the mountains to come down now while there is still time.
The division commander's message sounded cold steel the fact that 16 army battalions with heavy armor are now in Bukidnon poised for the final blitzkrieg any day. (RLRB/PIA Bukidnon)