TACLOBAN CITY – The surrender of 282 New People’s Army (NPA) fighters and die-hard supporters in Silvino Lubos, Northern Samar has further weakened the communist terrorist group in the province, a Philippine Army official said on Thursday.
Lt. Col. Ferdinand Engcot, commander of the Army’s 19th Infantry Battalion, said in a phone interview the mass surrender is a big blow to the NPA since majority of the surrenderers have been their source of strength, logistics, supplies, and information.
Those who formally withdrew support include 65 members of the NPA Yunit Militia, 65 members of Batakang Organisasyon ng Pampartido, and 152 Legal na Organisadong Masa.
The surrenderers came from the 11 barangays covered by the Army's people-centered Community Support Program designed to bring peace and development in conflict-affected villages.
“These underground mass organization and mass base supporters of the communist terrorist bandits pledge allegiance to the Philippine government and withdraw their support to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA-National Democratic Front (NDF),” Engcot said.
Empty promises, rebel’s extortion activities, and challenges brought by the health crisis prompted the NPA members and supporters to abandon the communist ideology.
Clearing operations are ongoing in 11 villages where these NPA supporters reside while the military is digging deeper to find out the extent of participation in the armed struggle of these surrenderers.
The 282 NPA members and supporters signed a pledge of allegiance on Aug. 27 at the town auditorium and joined a peace rally held around the town center. They also burned the CPP-NPA-NDF flags.
“This is not the end of our campaign in Silvino Lubos, but this is just the start. We will continue to work hand-in-hand with supportive officials of the local government,” Engcot added.
The mass surrender is just one of the outcomes of the deployment of the CSP to 16 villages in Silvino Lubos town, carrying out President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70, which institutionalizes a whole-of-nation approach in ending insurgency.
Silvino Lubos is a 4th class town about 30 kilometers away from Catarman, the provincial capital of Northern Samar.
The 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.
In June, its political wing, the NDF, has also been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Philippines’ Anti-Terrorism Council. (PNA)