AT LEAST 54 members of the left-leaning New People’s Army surrendered to the government in September, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Sunday.
The latest are two rebels from Palawan, according to the Western Command (WesCom) on Saturday.
Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP public affairs chief, said there were seven other communist rebels from the western Mindanao area who surrendered on Wednesday, September 20, to the Joint Task Force “ZamPeLan” in Zamboanga Sibugay.
It was the Philippine Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade who took custody of the surrenderees, Arevalo said.
In Sultan Kudarat, nine NPA rebels presented themselves “voluntarily” to the 33rd Infantry Battalion and turned over six improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on Sept. 23.
“It is apparent through the statement of those who surrendered that their comrades are now experiencing hardships within their organization, and they are willing to avail of the opportunities being offered by the government to former NPA rebels,” Arevalo said in a statement, adding that the military is expecting more surrenderees from the NPA.
The NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), has been ordered to intensify its offensives after President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao to suppress an alleged rebellion by Islamist extremists in Marawi City.
NPA rebels ambushed in July, members of Duterte’s Presidential Security Group (PSG) in North Cotabato and killed two Marines near a market in Roxas, Palawan.
These attacks prompted Duterte to scrap the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the political wing of the CPP.
The cancellation of peace talks, as well as the rejection of left-leaning Cabinet members Judy Taguiwalo and Rafael Mariano, prompted lawmakers under the Makabayan bloc to withdraw their alliance from the Duterte administration. DEMPSEY REYES