306 rebels, supporters surrender in Masbate

LEGAZPI CITY -- A total of 306 New People's Army (NPA) fighters, Milisyang Bayan (MB) members, Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad (SPL) officers, members, and supporters surrendered in Masbate Province on Thursday, a military official said Friday.

In an interview, Maj. Ricky Aguilar, the 9th Infantry Division officer, said the mass surrenderers are composed of 47 regular NPA members, 150 MB members, 51 SPL officers and members, and 58 supporters.

Aguilar added the group also surrendered 49 various firearms and three improvised explosive devices.

In a statement on Thursday, Aguilar said Lt. Col. Napoleon Pabon, Commanding Officer of 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB), said the government will take care of the former rebels after they have laid down their arms and return to the fold of the law.

"We need to ensure that all benefits and necessary remunerations, especially housing and kabuhayan (livelihood) packages, be provided them by concerned agencies in constant collaboration with the local government of the province,” Pabon said.

Pabon added that the recent mass surrender of the members of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) manifests that the government’s effort to offer peace is on the right track and that the influence of the communist group is weakening.

Major Gen. Fernando Trinidad, 9ID commanding officer, reiterated that the armed struggle pushed by the Communist Party of the Philippines and its terror acts such as the recent ambush in Labo, Camarines Norte that killed a soldier and wounded six others will never solve the society’s underlying problems.

Trinidad urged the communist terrorists to take the cue of their former comrades who decided to return to the folds of the law and live peacefully with their families.

"The government is more than ready to welcome and help them re-establish their lives through the different programs of Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict 5 as part of the government’s intensified implementation of Executive Order No. 70 or the Whole-of-Nation Approach," he added.

A nationwide indignation rally was also staged on Thursday, condemning the violence and illegal activities being spread by the CPP that impede the government’s effort for sustainable peace and development.

In the Bicol region, the same activity was launched in the cities of Naga, Legazpi, Sorsogon, and Masbate, and in Daet, Camarines Norte. (PNA)