LOCALIZED peace talks with communist New People’s Army guerrillas are already bearing fruit with many rebels surrendering to the police and turning over their weapons after years of hardship in their mountain hideouts, officials said yesterday.
Last week alone, nine NPA guerrillas in Central Mindanao voluntarily surrendered to security and local government officials in Sultan Kudarat and turned over their automatic weapons and dozens of ammunition, said Police Regional Office 12 director, Police Brigadier General Eliseo T. Rasco.
Rasco said the nine members of the NPA Guerrilla Front 73’s Platoon Cherry Mobile yielded as a result of the ongoing localized peace talks in the region.
In a report to Philippine National Police chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde, the Central Mindanao police director identified the leader of the 9-man NPA band as Edwin Dalimbang alias ‘Ka John,’ a 26-year old resident of Sitio Kilogeb, Barangay Midtungok in Senator Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat.
The official said Dalimbang and the eight others identified as Jay-Ar Manguda,21; Dalimbang’s brother Abila,21; Adog Dato,39; Daniel Digan,22; Inta Ugba,38; Tansyong Dafu,32; Palti Daf,30; and Rot Damasio turned themselves in to local police chief, Captain Carl Jayson Baynosa and Lieutenant Colonel Barney Condes.
Rasco officially welcomed the nine back to the folds of the law as he also accepted the weapons they surrendered consisting of one M-14 automatic rifle, one M1-6 Elisco rifle with a loaded magazine, one long barreled 12-gauge shotgun with a magazine and one Ingram KG45 submachine gun with a fully-loaded magazine.
Rasco said the surrender of the nine came as a result of their ongoing intensified counter-insurgency and anti-illegal firearms’ campaign in different parts of Senator Ninoy Aquino and Palimbang municipalities and Lake Sebu in South Cotabato.
Two weeks ago, four suspected NPA guerrillas identified as Roger Denglas, 19; Gaudencio Sabarle, 40; Laneoy Dingla, 18; and Rey Tungkilan, 22, were captured following a gunbattle with security forces in Bgy. Banali in Senator Ninoy Aquino municipality. Seized from the arrested suspects were one M- Garand rifle, one M-14 rifle with four magazines loaded with 15 live ammunition, one cal. .45 pistol with a magazine with six bullets and two fragmentation grenades.
On orders of Gen. Albayalde, police stations nationwide have opened their doors to NPA members who want to surrender and return to the mainstream of the society following President Duterte’s decision to scrap peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front led by self-exiled communist leader Jose Ma. Sison.
According to PNP spokesman, Colonel Bernard M. Banac, the PNP chief has instructed all police commanders especially those assigned in NPA-infested areas to start their own initiatives in pursuing localized peace talks with NPA units operating in their jurisdiction.
“All our police commanders have been given directives on how to handle situations when there are NPA elements who want to surrender. They were also given directive on how to handle local NPA leaders who want to talk to them. The PNP will be open as we help the Armed Forces of the Philippines in this ongoing effort,” Banac said.
The President had earlier ordered the permanent termination of the peace negotiations and recalled the appointment of five government negotiators who had been tasked to talk with the rebels. The Commander-in-Chief made the decision after being pissed off by the NPA’s continued attacks on security troops while the negotiation is in the process.
Banac said all police troops across the country have been instructed to be on 24-hour alert amid threats posed by the NPA. On Thursday last week, members of the Victoria Municipal Police Station in Northern Samar headed by Lieutenant Eladio Alo bravely repulsed some 50 heavily-armed NPA guerrillas who tried to overrun their headquarter killing three of the leftist gunmen and capturing another in the process.
Both the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the PNP fully supported localized peace talks with the NPA whose strength has been placed by the military to around 3,000 from a high of 8,000 in the past two years.
Banac said the localized peace talks go very well with their mandate. “We are into community policing and we believe that local problems are best resolved locally. We don’t have to involve the national government when you talk about peace and order in our locality. So we fully support the localized peace talks,” Banac recently told a television interview.
As ordered by the Palace, a new panel composed of representatives from different sectoral groups, local government units, and the military and the police will supervise localized peace engagements.