FORT MAGSAYSAY, Nueva Ecija — A total of 459 members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and their supporters in Central Luzon have voluntarily returned to the fold of the government in the past two weeks, the military said yesterday.
“From last Nov. 16 to 19, a total of 81 NPA members, 19 Militia ng Bayan members and 359 NPA supporters yielded to the government. This was possible through the full support and cooperation of local government units, national government agencies and the residents of Central Luzon,” 703rd Brigade commander Col. Andrew Costelo said.
Officers from the 48th Infantry Battalion, 69th Infantry Battalion, 84th Infantry Battalion and 91st Infantry Battalion all under the 703rd Brigade, facilitated their surrender.
Costelo directed his battalion commanders “to continue to collaborate with concerned government agencies and other civil society organizations for the necessary interventions, privileges and other assistance under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program to be given to the surrenderees.”
“We are grateful that our government came up with EO 70, which is the Whole-of-Nation Approach to end insurgency in our country. We can also say that EO 70 is very much effective so that our misguided fellow countrymen were enlightened and finally decided to lay down their arms and abandon their armed struggle because of the hardships and difficulties that they have experienced while in the underground movement,” he said.
Costelo also said that “with their decision to return back to the folds of the law, they could at last enjoy a life free from fear and hiding. We will help them achieve that full kind of life.”
This, even as 7th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Lenard Agustin said he was “very proud of the troops who made the immense volume of surrenderees possible.”
“I am urging all the remaining members of the NPA, their underground movement and their supporters to return to the folds of the law and in response, we will do our duty to facilitate them to the mainstream of society and have peaceful lives. In doing so, they would contribute in attaining Peace and Development in Region 3,” Agustin said.