TACLOBAN CITY – The commitment of five groups of former rebels to help in the fight against insurgency will contribute to the local government’s sustained efforts in completely wiping out the New People's Army (NPA) in Southern Leyte province, the military said on Tuesday.
The Philippine Army’s 802nd Infantry Brigade reported that officers of 156-member Southern Leyte Tandaya Integrated Peace and Development Workers Federation (SLTIPDWF) were formally inducted on Oct. 24 in Saint Bernard town by the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF ELCAC) Board Member Rolando Bacoy, representing Governor Damian Mercado.
Rodrigo Burlaza, the federation president, encouraged his fellow former rebels to continue supporting the programs of the government against armed struggle.
The inducted officers of SLTIPDWF were elected by the general membership from five Integrated Peace and Development Workers Associations (IPDWAs) in the towns of Silago, Hinunangan, Sogod, Saint Bernard, and Bontoc, all in Southern Leyte.
Brig. Gen. Zosimo Oliveros, commander of the Army’s 802nd Infantry Brigade, said the induction strengthened the collaboration between the workers association and the task force ELCAC at the village, municipal, and provincial levels.
“Since the creation of the IPDWAs in the five towns, the organization has already worked and facilitated the surfacing of 26 former NPA fighters and mass organizations members in Southern Leyte. This contributed much in the prevention of recovery efforts of the areas that were once considered as NPA mass base,” Oliveros said.
Due to the active involvement of the IPDWA, it is expected that more rebels will surface in the coming days, according to Oliveros.
“We assure the former rebels that the Philippine Army will work for their welfare and benefits in collaboration with regional, provincial, municipal and barangay Task Forces to End Local Communist Armed Conflict,” the Army official added.
The 156 federation members in Southern Leyte are former NPA fighters, Yunit Militia members, Batakang Organisasyon sa Partido members, and mass supporters.
They surrendered to the government between 2019 to 2021 when the government strengthened the whole-of-nation approach against armed conflict.
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)