Some 30 members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in Negros Oriental reportedly defected to the side of the government over the weekend.
According to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the defection practically broke the backbone of the communist insurgency in the area.
First Lt. Erick Wynmer Calulot, chief of the Public Information Office of the 3rd Infantry Division (3ID), said on Sunday that 28 of the defectors belonged to the Sangay sa Partido sa Localidad led by Rosalie Nama and Yunit Militia of Lubos na Asosasyong Masa/Solid Mass Association under Diosdado Nama, while the other two defectors were regular NPA fighters.
Calulot said that, the defectors also took their oath of allegiance to the government in Siaton town in the presence of provincial and municipal officials.
“They symbolically highlighted their act of finally defecting from the NPA by burning the NPA flag and embracing the Philippine flag,” Calulot said.
The defectors surrendered to the troops of the 79th Infantry (Masaligan) Battalion under Ltc. Marion Sison.
The 28 members of the two NPA militia units, the military said, were employed as informants and sometimes work as untrained fighters for the underground group.
“They admittedly decided to turn their backs [to the NPA]after realizing they have been fed with lies by the NPA Leadership,” said Maj. Ray Tiongson, 3ID spokesperson.
Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Jonas Sumagaysay, acting 3ID Commander, said that the surrender was a welcome development in the province of Negros Oriental.’
“Let us help each other in the spirit of [Oplan] Bayanihan to end the menace of insurgency and move forward towards development in the countryside,” he added.
Sumagaysay was referring to Oplan Bayanihan, the Aquino administration’s counter-insurgency program.
He further said that, the snowballing of surrenders could be attributed to social pressure generated by civil society organizations, local officials, and other stakeholders who have been persistent in calling for peace coupled with sustained combat operations in the region.
According to the first semester report of the 3ID, 62 regular members of the NPA have already surrendered.
The number includes 26 members of Komiteng Rehiyonal-Panay, 33 from Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros and three from Komiteng Rehiyonal Sentral-Bisayas.
The tally did not count NPA members who were monitored to have left the movement for the period.
This year’s first semester surrenderee count is up by 18 percent or 40 percent compared to the number recorded during the same period last year where 44 NPA rebels surrendered to the government.
“We expect more rebels to surrender in the coming days because we know that they are already tired of the futile armed struggle and wanted to go down and abandon the armed violence,” Sumagaysay said.