TWENTY-THREE members of the New People’s Army’s (NPA) Guerilla Front 73 yielded Friday to the military in Senator Ninoy Aquino town , Sultan Kudarat, said Lt. Col. Harold M. Cabunoc of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion (IB).
Cabunoc said the rebels, belonging to the Manobo-Dulangan tribe, surrendered in two batches to the 33rd IB Alpha Company under 1st Lt. Cesar Ballado and Capt. Rogelio Agustin of the 33rd IB Charlie Company.
“They brought with them assorted firearms and explosives, including one M14 rifle, four M1 Garand rifles, one home-made Tomgram, and two pistols,” Cabunoc told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview.
The 33rd IB chief said members of a village-level political wing of the communist movement, the Kilusang Rebolusyonaryong Barangay (KRB), have also surrendered together with the armed group members.
Since May 2017, a total of 113 former members of the Guerilla Front 73 have surrendered to the government through the 33rd IB.
“This is a big blow to the communist movement because the Army has dismantled the political structure that is responsible for the resourcing and sustaining of the New People’s Army members who roam in the hinterlands,” Cabunoc said.
“Popular support must be removed from the insurgents to drain their resources and deny them safe havens within civilian communities,” he added.
Andit Banday, 47, heads the KRB political structure operating at the borders of Palimbang and Sen. Ninoy Aquino towns in Sultan Kudarat.
He had organized mass mobilizations in lumad communities in collaboration with communist-affiliated people’s organizations and NPA cadres.
“I was approached by Ka Yoyo of the Guerilla Front 73 and Sultan Main of a KALUMARAN (Kusong sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao) organization,” Banday told Cabunoc after his surrender.
“They convinced me to accompany tribal members to political rallies in Koronadal, United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP Haran) in Davao City, and in the University of the Philippines,” said Banday, showing his Manilakbayan ID card.
Ulong Gongga, 60, a councilman of the KRB, said that the communist movement has not refunded, as promised, his personal expenses during the political rally in the US embassy in Manila a few years ago.
Sen. Ninoy Aquino (SNA) Mayor Randy Ecija Jr. described the surrender of the communist insurgents as a product of the effective collaboration among various uniformed services, such as the 33rd Infantry Battalion, Military Intelligence Group 12, Marine Battalion Landing Team 5, SNA PNP, and other government agencies.