49 sympathizers junk rebels

FORTY-NINE rebel sympathizers have turned their backs on and denounced the New People’s Army (NPA).

The 49 residents of Sitio Tigpaka Daku, Barangay San Antonio in Cuartero, Capiz, took their oath of allegiance on March 13, 2019 before police and military officers and local government officials.

Facilitated by the Army’s 61st Infantry (Hunter) Battalion, the event was witnessed Ronald Guillermo, who represented Cuartero Mayor Tito Mayo; Superintendent Robert Petate, chief of the Capiz Mobile Force Battalion; and Senior Inspector Mary Grace Borrio, Cuartero police chief.

Lieutenant Colonel Sisenando Magbalot Jr., 61st IB commander, said that apart from reaffirmation of their commitment to the government, the oath of allegiance also indicates their abandonment of the communist group.

“They are unarmed and are used in gathering of information. Sometimes, they are called as NPAs by night, farmers by day,” he said.

Of the 49 sympathizers, 10 are considered as Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad (SPL) members, 14 are local militiamen, and 25 are mass-based supporters.

“They told us they were just deceived. But now, they already realized that what they’ve told are nothing but empty promises. Wala namang natupad sa pangako nila kahit na isang metro ng kalsada o isang poste man lang, wala namang naipatayo,” Magbalot said.

With the local mass supporters and sympathizers, the NPAs could enter the village and use them as their eyes and ears for possible soldier sightings in the area.

Barangay San Antonio is one of the four villages where the 301st Infantry Brigade and 61st IB have been conducting Community Support Program in several villages in Panay, particularly in NPA-stronghold areas.

The CSP, which replaces AFP’s Oplan Bayanihan, emphasizes the military’s new thrust of enhancing nation-building and countryside development in relation to the peace policy of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The other three are barangays Carataya, Manguyod-nguyod, and Puti-an.

The four villages were considered NPA strongholds.

Last month, 60 mass-based supporters from Barangay Puti-an also took their oath of allegiance to the government and withdraw any support to the CPP-NPA.

“The series of oath of allegiance in Panay is a result of concerted efforts of our CSP teams, local government units, other law enforcement agencies and various sectors working together towards attaining genuine peace and progress in the island,” Magbalot said.

Meanwhile, Major General Dinoh Dolina, 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division commander, said that the development came after “the supporters have now finally come into a realization that the CPP-NPA terrorists is just using them for their selfish and bloody interests.”

“We are still calling on the remaining supporters to do the same to totally make the communist terrorist group irrelevant,” he said.

The series of surrender might pave the way for the eventual declaration of these four villages as insurgency-free.

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