BAGUIO CITY — The military’s Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) last week claimed that two to three NPAs are returning to government’s fold
everyday, and a firearm is being surrendered every other day to the government.
For January alone, Nolcom bared that a total of 87 communist rebels have already surrendered, even turning in 16 assorted firearms.
These 87 former rebels are currently processing their enrollment requirements to the government’s reintegration program, the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP), Nolcom said. This is in addition to the 396 former rebels who returned to the fold of the law last year and yielded a total of 96 firearms and are now enjoying peaceful and progressive lives with their families.
All the rebel returnees have been enrolled to ECLIP, wherein 222 of them already received livelihood grants amounting to P15.9 million in total, while the remaining 174 former rebels are now awaiting the release of their livelihood grants.
Nolcom chief Lieutenant General Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. said, these series of surrenders show that the terrorist group is nearing its end, saying that “the communist terrorists in Northern and Central Luzon are now on the brink of irrever-
sible collapse”. He added, “we have achieved decisive advantage against them, as manifested by the increasing number of surrenders from their ranks and the increasing number of their key personalities neutralized.”
Burgos Jr. also said that “(government) is right on schedule in our timeline to decimate the communist terrorists in Northern and Central Luzon,” attributing these successes against the communist movement in the North
“to (government forces’) active partnership with the community and the different government line agencies,” adding, “our active partnership and concerted actions in addressing issues in the community have proven to be too much against the false promises and deception of the communist terrorists.”
However, Communist Party of the Philippines information officer Marco Valbuena dismissed Burgos Jr.’s “narrative” citing the very recent rebel ambuscade in hinterland barangay Lamag, Quirino, a town bordering Ilocos Sur, Abra and Mt. Province where a soldier from the 71st Division Reconnaissance Company of the 7th Infantry Division was killed when a rebel sniper shot him right on the head. Another soldier was also hurt.
The ambush clearly disproves the recent AFP declaration of having “dismantled” the NPA in the area, Valbuena claimed, even further citing that “(it) was the seventh NPA offensive since the year started and came two weeks after a double ambush operations of the NPA-Abra against
24th IB and 72nd DRC last January 4 in Malibcong, Abra killing seven soldiers.”
The NPA ambush in Quirino, Ilocos Sur took place in the middle of the area earlier tagged by the military and the police as already freed from communist rebel influence.
Last December, Nolcom and the police jointly declared the “dismantling” of two guerrilla fronts of the NPA in Southern Ilocos Sur and claimed they have eliminated the NPA in the tri-boundary of Ilocos Sur, Abra and Mountain Province. ●