Of this number, 33 rebels who surrendered on February 8 are residents of Sitio Linggawa in Barangay Pidpid in this town while 22 residents from Barangay Lucbuban in Salcedo town yielded to the joint elements of the Army’s 81IB and the Police Regional Office 1 (PRO1) on February 10.
From the 33 UGMO members from Santa Cruz, three are members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army's (CPP-NPA) Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad (SPL), six are Kabataang Makabayan (KM), seven are from Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (MKBK), and 17 are Pambansang Kilusan ng Magsasaka (PKM).
On the other hand, the 22 surrenderers from the municipality of Salcedo are composed of four Milisyang Bayan (MB), seven KM and 11 PKM.
The significant number of surrenderers is attributed to the combined efforts of the Community Support Program teams of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in delivering enhanced services in the different areas of Ilocos Sur.
Major General Lenard Agustin, commander of the 7th Infantry (Kaugnay) Division, said, “CPP-NPA-NDF-influenced communities are now coming back to the folds of law because the government’s efforts are visible through the implementation of Executive Order No. 70 or the whole-of-nation approach. In the Army, we will ensure continued efforts to put an end to the local communist armed conflict; and we will most assuredly protect and help those who come out to live a life of peace.”
“The presence of the Army and PNP in NPA-influenced areas positively affects these communities. The security forces have done their best to convince the NPA supporters to go back to the folds of the law with an assurance that the government will protect and help them live in peace,” he added.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Rodrigo Mariñas, Jr., commanding officer of the 81IB said, “Basically, the Army’s 81IB and the PNP’s PRO1 have effectively immersed in NPA-influenced communities. We are grateful that we delivered the right information which resulted to the right understanding about local terrorists and their recruitment tactics, further protecting these communities from exploitation by these groups.”
“As public servants, we will continue to work hand-in-hand with the different government units and agencies and private stakeholders to show sincerity in the performance of our mandate of ending local insurgency,” Mariñas added.
The government will assist the former UGMO members through different programs like a peace-building seminar to help them cope with the challenges they are set to face after surrendering and equip them with programs and trainings that will enable them to establish conflict resilient communities. (JCR/AMB/PIA Ilocos Sur)By April M. Bravo