(Yearender) 313 rebels surrender in Southern Mindanao in 2009

January 1, 2010 2:03 pm 

CAMP APOLINARIO, Davao City, Jan. 1 — A total of 313 rebels surrendered to government authorities in Southern Mindanao region in 2009.

In its yearend report, The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) 10th Infantry (Agila) Division, also reported that most of these surrenderors came from South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, General Santos City (Socsargen) and some municipalities in Agusan del Sur in 2009.

The rebel returnees include 289 communist-New People’s Army (NPA) while 24 belong to the Lawless Moro Islamic Liberation Front Group (LMG), the “Agila” Division report stated.

A total of 50 firearms were also yielded during the period. The rebels surrendered to field units under the 10th “Agila” Division.

The 289 NPAs who surrendered to the 10th “Agila” Division alone account for 11.53 percent of the nationwide tally of 2,506 communists who laid down their arms in 2009, the report added.

Davao Oriental province leads the tally of NPA surrenderors with 96, followed by Davao del Sur–48, Compostela Valley province–33, Sultan Kudarat–27, Davao del Norte–26, South Cotabato–25, Sarangani province–19, Davao City–14 and one from Agusan del Sur, the 2009 report said.

The month of July tops the most number of surrenderors with 60, followed by May with 31, June and November with 30 each, October has 28, April–25, September–18, January and February recorded 17 each, March and August both 16 and one in December 2009.

The former rebels who are now called “Kauban sa Reporma” (KR) or partner in reform availed of the different programs of the government with 61 taking advantage of the Social Integration Program (SIP) and 22 KRs availed the “Balik Baril, Bayad Agad” program while the rest are still being cross checked and clearances are being processed for their inclusion in the appropriate program where they fit, said Capt. Emmanuel R. Garcia, chief of “Agila’s” Public Affairs Office.

Out of the 61 who availed the SIP, 29 were given immediate cash assistance, 32 were given self employment opportunity under the SIP’s livelihood program while 29 were given payments on the firearms they surrendered, he said.

A total of 13 child combatants also surrendered which is 4.5 percent of the total number of surrenderors in 2009. The children revealed that there are still more minors in the underground movement being employed by NPA terrorists in their war against the state, said Capt. Garcia.

Women warriors account to 29 of those who surrendered amounting to 10 percent. Those who surrendered said the employment of women in the armed component of the rebels form part of their tactic while majority of their female members are being utilized in different legal front organizations to wage legal struggle as part of their doubled edged sword strategy to topple the government, he added.

Lumad (Indigenous People) fighters account for 181 which is 62.6 percent of the total number of surrenderors. The Lumads admit majority of the NPA comes from Indigenous Communities. Simon Santiago (not his real name) who claims to speak in behalf of the CPP-NPA-NDF in Davao confessed during a radio interview that more than 50 percent of their members are Lumads. Ironically, Lumads are also being targeted for liquidation by the NPAs. In 2009 alone, there were 24 Lumads who were killed by NPA death squads in Davao region while from 1998-2008, a total of 357 Lumads were murdered by the NPA according to records of the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples’ Conference for Peace and Development, Garcia further added.

He said the hardship experienced by the rebels in the mountains is the prevalent reason for surrender seconded by the longing for their families. Some also surrendered for varied reasons like misunderstanding among fellow rebels and infighting among leaders over money and position; disgruntled over some policies, some were prevailed upon by relatives while some just got tired of running away from authorities.

Field unit commanders and government officials are optimistic that with the current trend, more rebels will surrender and avail of the reconciliation program in 2010, Garcia said. (PNA) FFC/MUC/utb

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