CAMP SIONGCO , Awang, DOS, Maguindanao del Norte – In a rare opportunity, former members of the communist movement experienced a Christmas party in a program at the headquarters of the 38th Infantry (We clear) Battalion in Sitio Tampuan, Brgy. Kamanga, Maasim, Sarangani this December 15, 2022.
Besides the Christmas Party, gifts and Noche Buena packages were also given to 36 former rebels. LGU Sarangani and some towns under its jurisdiction are also extending financial assistance to the converted rebels.
Also part of the program is their signing on the tarpaulin of the ‘Peace Pledge’ and swearing allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and completely abandoning the armed struggle.
“Even now we felt the happy celebration of the holiday season. This is where I realized that the government is not our enemy but our helper in achieving a better tomorrow”, said one of the former NPA combatants.
In his message, Sarangani Governor Rogelio Pacquiao, who is also the head of the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) said that the conversion of 36 former rebels means that they are united in the desired peace and prosperity in the province of Sarangani. “One thing is clear, violence in any form and action and those who poison the mind of people to rebel against the government, all of this is not welcome in our province”, the governor said.
Major General Roy Galido, the Commander of the 6th Infantry (Army) Division and Joint Task Force Central personally went to the activity to inform the FRs that they are not enemies of the government, instead their minds have been deceived by false information. .
Brigadier General Pedro Balisi, the Commander of the 1st Mechanized Brigade, also attended the said activity; Lt. Col. Rey Rico, Commander of 34IB; Major Michel Angelo Diquiatco, 38IB Executive Officer; Atty. Ryan Jay Ramos, Chief of Staff, Office of the Governor – Sarangani; Hon. Jose Tranquilino Librea Ruiz, Board Member; Hon. Ruben Balanag, Municipal Administrator, Maitum; Hon. George Falqui, Mayor of Kiamba; Hon. Visitacion Nambatac, vice mayor of Maasim; members of the PNP, members of the media and others.
It will be recalled that the former rebels surrendered to Lieutenant Colonel Michael Angelo Candole, the Acting Battalion Commander of the 38IB on December 8, 2022 carrying their war equipment, as a sign of their abandonment of the armed struggle.
Based on the records of JTF Central, now up to 167 communist terrorist groups have been neutralized in various units covered by the Kampilan Division. Of the aforementioned number, 150 converted while 17 were killed fighting the military troops.
The said number is from the month of January until the end of this year. Among the dead are senior officials of the weakening and ravaging Far South Mindanao Region, Ian Dela Rama alias Cris, Former Secretary, Front 4A; Emmanuel Fernandez alias Bobo, secretary of the South Mindanao Region; Dennis Dolunan alias Kalbo, Deputy secretary of the East Daguma Front who was brought down by order of battle and many others.