Pregnant rebel returnee recalls ordeal inside the NPA

Marje Pelayo   •   August 20, 2021   •   1272

MANILA, Philippines — A rebel returnee who goes by the alias “Marga” recalled her experiences in the hands of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Now seven months pregnant, Marga said the rebel group has no regard for the welfare of its members even to pregnant women like her.

Wala gyud ma atiman ang ilang mga tao samot na sa mga buros. Lisod gyud kaayo kay walay pagkaon. Usahay mukaon mi, sa usa ka sardinas, kwarenta kabuok ang magbahin bahin. Mao na ang among kasinatian,” she said in her local dialect.

[Translation: They don’t take care of their people even the pregnant ones. Life was tough due to the lack of food. There were times when 40 people had to share a can of sardines. That was our experience.]

Marga and eight other rebels recently surrendered to authorities.

They were presented by the 58th Infantry Dimalulupig Battalion in a press conference at 58IB Headquarters in Sitio Migbanday, Brgy Poblacion, Claveria, Misamis Oriental on Thursday (August 19).

During the press conference, a total of 14 firearms were also presented, six of which were surrendered while the other eight were recovered during the retrieval operation of 58IB troops at the hinterlands of Barangay San Luiz, Malitbog, Bukidnon.

The former rebels received livelihood assistance under the government’s “Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP)” which helps former rebels rebuild their lives after returning to the folds of the law.

The assistance to Marga and her other companions included financial aid of P5,000 each, food packs, hygiene kits, sleeping kits, cooking kits, and P10,000 cash aid from the Department of Social Welfare and Development Region X (DSWD-10).

According to the accounts of the surrenderers, they had wanted to quit the organization for a long time due to the hardships and hunger. However, they were always held back by their leaders.

When the opportunity presented itself, they took it without hesitation.

Military, police uncover NPA arms cache in Masbate

Marje Pelayo   •   September 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Government troops have seized a bulk of war materiel in Masbate province as they continue to hunt down New People’s Army (NPA) terrorists.

On Monday (September 20), government authorities received information from residents in Aroroy about the suspicious materials left behind by the communist rebels in their area.

Responding to the tip-off, elements of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) immediately verified the report.

The troops were able to capture the following:
– one M16 rifle;
– two magazines;
– assorted ammunition;
– one plastic bag containing ammonium nitrate which is the primary component in making anti-personnel mines;
– a dynamite;
– one roll of detonating cord.

There were also some personal belongings along with the said arms haul.

Lt. Col. Siegfried Felipe Awichen, Battalion Commander of 2IB, hailed the vigilance of the Masbateños for the discovery of the war materiel. The public cooperation just proves that the NPA can no longer hide even their firearms.

Meanwhile, Col. Aldwine Almase, Brigade Commander of 903rd Infantry Brigade, said the capture of these firearms is a manifestation of the continuously deteriorating capabilities of the terrorist group especially in the province of Masbate.

“Iniiwan na lang nila ang mga armas nila kasi wala ng magbibitbit dahil kulang na ang kanilang mga miyembro gawa ng sunod-sunod na mass surrender sa Masbate. Muli naming pinapaalalahanan ang naiiwan pang mga miyembro ng komunistang terorista upang sila ay sumuko at magbagong buhay,” Almase said.

Police BGen. Jonnel Estomo, Regional Director of Police Regional Office 5 (PRO-5), commended the public’s support which makes the campaign of the government to make Masbate armed conflict-free attainable.

“Hindi po namin makakamit ang sunod-sunod na tagumpay na ito kung wala ang suporta ninyong mga Bicolano,” PBGen. Estomo concluded.

9 NPA members in Misamis Oriental surrender to the Philippine Army

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 23, 2021

A former NPA member leads the military to a stash or firearms.

Nine members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Misamis Oriental have surrendered to the Philippine Army.

The former rebels were members of the sub-regional committee of the NPA in North Central Mindanao Regional Command. They also surrendered 14 high-caliber firearms.

One of the rebel returnees, identified as alias Marga, said that lack of food pushed them to surrender to the government. She said there were times when 40 members had to share one can of sardines. They were also forbidden to visit their families.

Magpapaalam ka nang maayos, hindi ka papayagan. Kaya iyong iba naming kasama kadalasan talaga umuuwi nang hindi nagpapaalam dahil sa ganyang kalagayan, hindi ka papayagan. Wala kang kalayaan o demokrasya, (You will not be allowed to go home even if you asked properly. Because of it, some would just leave without permission. There is no freedom or democracy),” she said.

According to Lt.Col. Ricky Canatoy, commanding officer of the 58th Infantry Battalion, the combined efforts of the Philippine Army and the government contributed to the increasing number of returning rebels.

“Military action alone will not be enough to achieve or maintain long-term peace; engagement from line agencies, notably from local government units, is essential. Because of the close linkages among government agencies, hostile manpower and firearms have been steadily reduced,” he said.

The rebel surrenderers will receive financial and livelihood assistance under the Enhance Comprehensive Local Integration Program of the government.

Some 20 NPA rebels burn construction equipment in Northern Samar

Marje Pelayo   •   July 30, 2021

SAMAR, Philippines – Members of the communists New People’s Army (NPA) burned several construction equipment in Brgy. San Francisco, Las Navas, Northern Samar, the Philippine Army reported.

The incident, which happened at around 4:00 a.m. Thursday (July 29), charred several vehicles and equipment including a ten-wheeler dump truck, two backhoes, crane, one self-loading vehicle (prime mover), soil compactor, grader, two loaders, and generator set.

The construction equipment are owned by MDU Construction which employed more than a hundred construction workers currently working in the completion of the road construction project in barangays Quirino and San Francisco, both of Las Navas.

The project which shall connect the Northern and Eastern Samar provinces in Eastern Visayas, is scheduled to be completed by end of December this year.

According to information received by the military, more or less 20 fully-armed NPA rebels arrived in the area and burned the equipment after the refusal of the owner of the construction company to the communists’ demand for revolutionary tax.

“This terroristic action has derailed the completion of this vital road project that will connect the Eastern towns of Samar to the rest of the island and make the lives of the people in the area much easier. There could only be one reason for this arson, their demand for money or more money has not been met as contractors have had enough of these terrorists’ extortion,” Major General Pio Diñoso III, 8th Infantry Division Commander, said.

“Nonetheless, the contractors will not be cowed and have pledged to not give in to terrorists’ demands,” he added.

The official assured the people of Eastern Visayas that “the Philippine Army will work closely with these project proponents to ensure that projects of the government will be finished and be delivered to the people at all costs.”

“While this setback has been costly, projects will continue and no terrorist will be able to stop us if we will act together against them,” he said.

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