By JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL, Managing Editor
CAMP NAVARRO, Calarian, Zamboanga City: Some 18 communist terrorist group (CTG) members, who surrendered anew, were presented to the newly-installed commanding general of the Philippine Army last Saturday in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.
Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, the newly installed Commanding General and the concurrent Commander of Western Mindanao Command, welcomed the surrendered personalities back to the mainstream society during the 1st Former Rebels Summit held at the 102nd Infantry Brigade Headquarters in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.
Said personalities handed over two M4, four AK47, and three M16 assault rifles.
In his message, Lt. Gen. Sobejana said, “With our partners and the communities, we will capacitate forces that will address the challenges of the times. The Army will raise forces that can provide new opportunities to our brothers and sisters who have fallen victim to the deceptive communist terrorist groups.”
“Despite the pandemic, our government consistently pursues lasting peace and development in Zamboanga Peninsula. This also attests to our resolve to defeat the communist insurgency before 2022 and maintain stability in the region,” he added.
Also present during the summit were 58 more former rebels who returned to the fold of law in the previous months.
They all received medical and financial assistance from the local government units, technical working group of Task Force End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC), and other government agencies.
According to Brig. Gen. Leonel Nicolas, all the 76 former rebels were members of the CTG operating in the region and that the 18 new surrenderors belongs to the platoon that provides staff work, services, and security support to all admin and operational activities of the group.
Alias Peewee, the platoon leader said, “Nagpasalamat ko sa 97IB sa dihang na-encounter ug naigo ko, ako mismo ilang gitambalan. Sukuhi sa among nadungog sa akong kauban na sa dihang musurrender ka, kulatahon ka, pasakitan ka, or bun-ogon.” (I would like to thank the 97IB because when our groups clashed and I was hit, they rescued me and provided me with proper medical attention. This is contrary to what our comrades conveyed that if we surrender, we will be beaten or tortured.
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Generoso Ponio, JTF ZamPeLan Commander, during his speech, urged the FRs to join hands with the government in its peace and development efforts. JIJ