FORT MAGSAYSAY, Nueva Ecija — A total of 846 members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and their supporters in Central Luzon surrendered to Philippine Army units in 2019.
From the figure, 24 are considered as Regular NPA members, 21 as Milisyang Bayan, 228 are part of Underground Mass Organizations, 157 as Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad and 416 are mass supporters.
“Majority of the surrenders during the 4th quarter are credited to the 69th Infantry Battalion in Guimba, Nueva Ecija with 438 followed by 48th Infantry Battalion in Bulacan with 222 and 84th Infantry Battalion in Carranglan, Nueva Ecija with 100,” 7th Infantry Division Commander Major General Lenard T. Agustin said.
“Of course, we credit this accomplishment to Executive Order 70 otherwise known as whole-of-nation approach to end local communist armed conflict,” Agustin added.
The 7ID has long implemented its Community Support Programs in its area of responsibility to help communities in addressing their needs and resolving the prevailing issues, especially those in remote and depressed areas, and protect them from NPA exploitation.
However, with the implementation of EO 70 which mandated all local government units and national government agencies to play an active role in ending insurgency and work with Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines in bringing about inclusive peace and sustainable development to the nation, the programs were enhanced and became highly effective.
“With more stakeholders putting in efforts to show the people, down to the barangay level, what we have to offer, what benefits await them should they (the NPA members and their supporters) surrender, more and more are taking courage to come back, be with their families, and experience peace,” Agustin furthered.
Those who voluntarily surrender to Army units are assessed for qualification to the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) that provides financial assistance and livelihood trainings for former rebels.
Under E-CLIP, firearms remuneration starts PhP12,500 for Caliber .22 and as high as PhP214,000 for Light M60 Machine Gun. The government and the Army also ensure the safety and security of those who choose to surrender.
“Right now we are busy doing everything we can to protect the people from any shenanigans the NPA might come up with, especially that more and more NPA members and their supporters are returning to the folds of law,” Agustin said.
“We are also taking extra effort in our information drive for the youth, as they are easily ensnared into the web of lies the enemy weave to trigger their idealistic passions, use it to their advantage, and even use them as child warriors,” he furthered.
Having successfully dismantled the Komiteng Larangang Guerilya (KLG) Caraballo, a known NPA Guerilla Front that used to terrorize in the tri-boundaries of Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan and Aurora, Agustin now sees the eventual downfall of KLG Sierra Madre in Region III.