These were the results of the collective efforts of the five army battalions under 403Bde that are doing community service in 58 barangays in the provinces of Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon, as well as the hinterlands of Cagayan de Oro City.
Reasons ranging from failed promises, internal corruption, sexual opportunism, deception and lies, isolation and loneliness, hunger, fatigue, and anxiety caused these regular NPA fighters to surrender.
One NPA political cadre revealed that family dynasty proliferates in the NPA unit.
“Halos tanang yunit sa hukbo, mag-asawa ang nagdumala. Ang bayi ang kalihim, ang laki ang CO ug puli kalihim. Kontrolado nila ang pondo ug supply. Ang gisaad sa amo mao ang supamil (suporta sa pamilya) nga wala mi kabalo asa gakaadto. Pero ang anak sa mga magasawang lider, hayahay ug kinabuhi. Si Ka Miray dunay negosyo nga tamnanan sa kape. Apan kami gantos sa labnaw nga kape. Ang tinapa, 6-in-1. Unom ka tawo magtunga sa usa ka lata” revealed one of the surrenderee.
Among the latest surrenderee is a young NPA couple. "15 pako pagrecruit sa akoa nga musampa sa NPA (I was 15 when I was recruited to join NPA)" said Kenny (not her real name). Her partner Koko was also 17 when recruited almost five years ago.
“The barangay immersion of army’s community support teams (CST) under 403Bde enlightened the local residents who were radicalized and lured into supporting the terrorist organization by CPP-NPA political cadres,” said Cpt Ryan Layug, 403Bde CSP Officer. “Our soldiers penetrate remote areas and stay in geographically-isolated communities to bring good news, help LGUs deliver services, and initiate dialogue to hear their reasons for supporting and joining the CPP-NDF-NPA. Common responses we got were that they were agitated by twisted stories against the government that were told by NPA propagandists and ‘organisador’.
During community dialogues, LGU and national agency representatives clarify issues with the communities and they realized all the fake news from NPA propagandists,” Layug added.
403Bde Commander BGen Edgardo De Leon said that the AFP has long been embarked in pursuing community-oriented efforts to address the communist insurgency. “We have long proven this approach to be effective, but we need the involvement of civilian agencies and the private sector for this effort to truly succeed. The resources of the AFP is not sufficient in resource-intensive community immersions and services. We could only offer so much.”
“The AFP is grateful that President Duterte, who personally saw how effective the Army’s CSP in Davao City while still a Mayor, issued EO70 that institutionalized the community-oriented approach in ending the local communist armed conflict. By involving the entire government bureaucracy and mobilizing the entire nation against the CPP-NDF-NPA, we are confident that communist insurgency will be finally eliminated before the President’s term ends.”
Fulltime NPA members and part-time armed militias who surrendered are now being processed by provincial and city DILG offices for enrollment to the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP). The Provincial Governors and the City Mayor who Chair the ECLIP Committees are closely working with the DILG and other regional line agencies to expedite the release of benefits to “victims” of CPP-NDF-NPA’s lies and deception. They were exploited by the communist terrorists and their families suffered most, thus they need government assistance for their quick recovery.
4th Infantry Division Commander, MGen Franco Nemesio Gacal, the proponent of “Peaceful War” against communist insurgency highlighted the effectiveness of CSP immersions as it addresses the roots of insurgency. He said: “CSP opens the path for the entry of developmental programs, projects and activities in once conflict-affected barangays. Communities that withdrew support from CPP-NDF-NPA are now cleared and ready for inter-agency socio-economic intervention through the Convergence Areas for Peace and Development (CAPDEV) Program. I congratulate everyone, every unit of 403Bde, every government agencies, and every stakeholder that have poured their heart to save our brothers and sisters from the manipulation of terrorist NPAs. We are very optimistic because the entire nation and the entire bureaucracy is joining hands to end local armed conflict."
"It is very clear that many lives are being saved through our Peaceful War, let us continue doing it to save more souls,” Gacal added.
ECLIP is President Duterte's program for regular NPA and MB that will return to the folds of the law. It includes education, skills training, housing, livelihood assistance. Firearms renumeration is also given for every firearm surrendered depending on caliber and made.