AMID fresh encounters with communist rebels that left several soldier dead, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has claimed a major victory over the communist New People’s Army (NPA) following a series of surrender by members of the NPA revolutionary forces.
AFP Public Affairs Office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala on Tuesday said that a total of 56 rebels from Samar province have voluntarily surrendered to avail of the government’s program for rebel returnees.
The latest to lay down their arms were 38 members of the NPA’s Barangay Organizing Party led by Antonio Fabia and 15 militia units led by Teria Besconia in Bobo, Nothern Samar.
Zagala said that both groups surrendered on Sunday to Lt. Col. Noel Vestuir, commanding officer, 20th Infantry Battalion, 8th Infantry Division.
Earlier, couple Nida and Lemuel Moreno, along with their son, Jonathan, also surrendered to the same unit.
The Moreno couple according to Zagala, were ranking members of the NPA in the area.
He added that it was the Moreno couple that facilitated the surrender of 54 of their comrades, including their son.
“They are currently undergoing documentation and custodial debriefing at the 20IB headquarters,” Zagala said. “The surrender is a clear victory for the people of Samar who yearn for peace.
Vestuir, for his part, called on the remaining NPA regulars to lay down their arms and avail the current programs of the government that could help them as they return to the mainstream of our society.
“The AFP calls on the immediate end to the armed struggle that has caused misery and suffering to civilians and hampers growth and development of far-flung communities and the country as a whole,” Vestuir said.
Meanwhile, government forces and the Maoist rebels clashed anew in Sitio Mangkupa, Barangay Manampunay in Leon, Iloilo.
Maj. Ray Tiongson, spokesman, 3rd Infantry Division, said that there were no casualties or injured on the government side during the 10-minute encounter.
He added that there were undetermined casualties on rebels side as shown by the bloodstains on the enemies’ withdrawal route.