Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City — The number of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Eastern Mindanao continues to plunge with another mass surrender following the arrest of its top leaders in March this year.
A total of 53 communist rebels under Embay Casal Gayaw, a.k.a. Rixan, leader of FC 34 operating in the boundaries of Agusan, Bukidnon, and Davao provinces, surrendered with 53 assorted firearms to the 403rd Infantry Brigade at Impalambong, Malaybalay City.
The third this year, the surrender followed the 97 NPAs who left the rebel group last month and 72 rebels in March. The snowballing number of former NPA rebels was attributed to the diminished leadership following the arrest of Benito and Wilma Tiamzon.
Apart from the hardships of living underground, the surrenders are seen to be because of the growing disappointment of members from indigenous communities on the rebel leadership in the area because of undelivered promises.
With this, the AFP continues to reach out to the rebel group to abandon their armed struggle and join the government in finding a peaceful solution to their problems. The AFP will also intensify its partnership with local chief executives and private organizations to address the grievances of Filipinos in far-flung communities to prevent selfish interests from taking advantage of the situation.
The former rebels are expected to receive cash grants from the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the surrendered firearms. Many rebel returnees also received other support packages including initial cash assistance of ₱15,000 and livelihood assistance of ₱50,000 coming from Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.
“I am here to thank you for returning to the government fold, and finally realizing that the armed struggle is not the solution. Taking the lives of your fellow Filipinos is not the solution to resolve poverty. We all have problems to face and there are a lot of threats that will come but I can assure you that we can overcome all of these if we will unite together as Filipinos,” AFP Chief of Staff, General Emmanuel T. Bautista said.