19 MBs surrender, 285 others withdrew CNT Support in recently held pledge of allegiance ceremony in AgNor Town

BUENAVISTA, Agusan del Norte –After 51 years of providing support to the Communist New People’s Army Terrorist (CNT), three hundred four (304) disillusioned NPA members, Militia ng Bayan (MB) and mass supporters of the terrorist group finally made up their minds to cut ties and withdrew their support from the CPP-NPA-NDF in a pledge of allegiance ceremony held in Barangay Ibuan, Las Nieves Agusan del Norte on March 26, 2021.

Among the 304 include 19 Milisya ng Bayan (MB) members and 285 members of Underground Mass Organization (UGMO). They pledged loyalty to the government and denounced the CNT movement for hindering the development interventions that caused poverty and hunger in their community. They condemned the CNTs for their terroristic activities that put into great danger the lives and properties of the residents in the area.

They also expressed guilt for giving in to the demands of the CNTs which brought nothing but fear and regression in their community and vowed to support the 23rd Infantry (Masigasig) Battalion (23IB) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) by providing vital information in the continuing drive to end the local communist armed conflicts in their locality.

The mass surrender activity was witnessed by Mayor Avelina S. Rosales of Las Nieves, Mr. Gerry Joey Laurito, Provincial Administrator of Agusan del Norte, Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo INF (GSC) PA, Commanding Officer 23IB and members of the Sangguniang Bayan. The members of the barangay council of Ibuan, led by Barangay Captain Victoria Namuag was also present during the occasion. The local residents of Ibuan also witnessed the ceremony as they expressed gladness over the surrender of the NPA members and withdrawal of support ofnCNTs supporters.

Alias Boy, an MB member who surrendered said he is already tired during the long years of supporting and being manipulated by the CNTs and in return got nothing.

“Ako, isip usa ka mag uuma, nadani gyod ko sa CPP-NPA tungod kay ang ako balay naa sa kabukiran. Lisod kaayo ang ako kahimutang hilabi na kung muabot ang mga NPA, kay ang akong mga tanum nga gulay, mga binuhi nga mga manok ang mga NPA ang maka pahimulos. Ang akong mga anak wala na sila’y makaon kay gihurot na sa NPA,” Boy said.

He pointed out that poverty forced him to join the CNT movement with a promise that changes in their lives and communities will be achieved by fighting and toppling down the government.

“Tungod sa kalisod ug kahadlok naka sulod ko og naka suporta sa dautang grupo. Niadtong panahon nga niabot ang walhong grupo, ila kong gipatawag og gi-istorya kabahin sa kalihukan nila sa ilang bukid. Wa ko nagtoo nga ingato ang mahitabo og ma ingon ani mi karon, wala man gyod unta koy plano mosaka sa bukid aron musupak sa gobyerno kay maayo man ang plano sa gobyerno,” Boy said.

He is also thankful to the forces of the 23IB and the local government unit (LGU) of Las Nieves for the opportunity given to them to renew their lives by going back to the government.

“Dako akong pasalamat ug kalipay nga ang kasundalohan sa 23IB ug ang lokal nga panggamhanan sa Las Nieves nia na mitabang pagsulbad sa kalisod sa atong barangay. Maningkamot kita sa pagsalikway sa mga dautang binuhatan sa mga NPAs. Akong gisaad nga dili na ko magsuporta sa ila kay dako kaayo ang kahasol nga ilang dala sa among komunidad,” Alias Boy said.

The mass surrender in Ibuan on Friday was aimed to neutralize the CNTs and clear the area from the armed group who were terrorizing and threatening the safety and security of the residents and hinders the progress and development from entering the area. Barangay Ibuan is a known mass base of the CPP-NPA where their leaders can easily recruit and train new members. The residents on the other hand were forced to support the CNTs because of fear and the safety of their families once they refuse to give in to the demands of the terrorists. The residents also fear the high-powered firearms being brandished by the CNT members in the community.

In her message, Mayor Rosales lauded the courage of the members and supporters of the CNTs when they unanimously detached themselves from the group.

“This activity is not for the AFP, PNP nor LGU, and the line government agencies. We want nothing but peace and development as we stay in our barangay. Armed conflicts hinder our initiatives and interventions to bring peace and development in your barangay,” Rosales said.

She emphasized that the people of Ibuan have been victims of CNT atrocities for a long period of time.

“You were just victimized by the CNTs who destroyed your future and your families. No one will be responsible for solving our own problems, we need to make a move in order to get away from poverty and reap the good fruit of progress and development not only in your family but including your whole community and our nation,” Rosales said.

For his part, Provincial Administrator Laurito expressed gladness over the increasing number of CNT members who surrender to the government to embrace a peaceful life by reintegrating into the mainstream society.

“As you chose to start living a new life, the Provincial Government of Agusan del Norte assures you that you will never regret the decisions you made today. Our government is always here to listen to your problems and find solutions in any possible way. We will do our best to provide government services to you and we need your support and cooperation. We will develop livelihood projects especially agricultural production for you to have a sustainable livelihood and help our government in recovering the status of our economic system,” Laurito said.

Lt. Col. Paulo, during the activity, welcomed the former members and mass supporters of the CPP-NPA back to the fold of the law.

“I am glad that you denounced the CPP-NPA Terrorists and withdrew your support from them. We are glad that you woke up from being enslaved by the said terror group and cut-off your allegiance to them,” Paulo said.

He also thanked the members of the barangay council of Ibuan, as well as the residents for trusting the government and the cooperation they manifested in the efforts to finally end the local communist armed conflict in the area.

We thank you for the support you have given to us. We, together with different government agencies will do our best to bring the basic services you most need. Your army, especially the 23IB troopers will always be the partners of the people in the quest to achieve lasting peace and sustainable development. We serve and protect the constituents who were once being exploited and manipulated by the armed group. We are always willing to sacrifice in order to free the people from the chains that controlled them to do what’s right”, Paulo said.

He added that for more than 51 years of fighting the government, the CNTs are bound to fail as more of their members and supporters are now abandoning their wicked ideology and terroristic activities.

The 23rd IB commander also reminded the residents in the area to guard their communities especially the youth from the attacks of the CNTs.

“Now that their numbers continue to dwindle, these CNTs will again manipulate the issues on poverty, unemployment and other common problems to gain support and sympathy, recruit new members and make people embrace communism,” Paulo said.

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