521 New People’s Army (NPA) members have surrendered to the government since the peace negotiations were terminated on February 4, a military official said in a statement on Saturday.
Marine Colonel Edgard Arevalo, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Public Affairs chief, said that the communist rebels are surrendering because their forces are weakening.
“The continuous surrender of NPA members is indicative of the organization’s dwindling strength,” Arevalo said.
“This is also a clear manifestation of our successful intensified combat, intelligence, and civil-military operations, particularly in North-eastern Mindanao which is the NPA’s area of concentration,” Arevalo added.
Since the start of November, 18 NPA members voluntarily surrendered to AFP units. All of them also turned in their firearms.
Joel “Jojo” Embos, a member of NPA’s Militia ng Bayan, voluntarily surrendered with three firearms to the Philippine Army’s 36th Infantry Battalion in Surigao del Sur on November 3.
On the other hand, eight members of the Guerilla Front 73 carrying high-powered firearms turned themselves in to the Army’s 33IB in Sultan Kudarat on All Souls’ Day.
Meanwhile, seven NPA members surrendered on November 1. Mark Banahid Talusan, squad leader of an NPA platoon, surrendered to members of the 27IB along with his M16 rifle in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.
Four others namely Camilo Dumanglay, Allan Jeva Asalan, Welnie Sanchez, and Junrey Pinsahan surrendered to the Army’s 26IB in Talacogon, Agusan del Sur while Aman Baclayon surrendered to the 1st Special Forces Battalion along with his M1 Garand rifle in Libona, Bukidnon.
16-year-old Ker-Ker Saling Bangon using aliases “Tarzan” and “Tikboy” voluntarily surrendered to the Army’s 27th IB in T’boli, South Cotabato. The minor also turned in his 9mm Thomgram machine pistol.
Since February 4, the AFP has captured 736 rebels, 121 were killed in combat operations, and 94 were apprehended. The military also confiscated 578 high-powered and low-powered firearms from the rebels.
“It is becoming more apparent that hardships inside the NPA organization are now taking its toll on its members leading them to cross the line and return to the folds of the law,” AFP Chief of Staff General Rey Guerrero said.
“The AFP on its part welcomes these former rebels and is willing to offer them assistance in line with the administration’s local integration programs,” Guerrero added.