14 NPA MBs Surrender to 23IB, 325 UGMOs Withdrew CNT Support

BUENAVISTA, Agusan del Norte – The 23rd Infantry (Masigasig) Battalion (23IB), together with the Provincial Government of Agusan del Norte and the local government unit (LGU) of Las Nieves welcomed back to the folds of the law fourteen (14) members of the Milisya ng Bayan (MBs) and three hundred twenty-five (325) members of Underground Mass Organizations (UGMOs) in a pledge of allegiance ceremony held on April 30, 2021 in Barangay Consorcia, Las Nieves.

The MBs and UGMOs once served as the main support mechanism of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) New People’s Army (NPA) Terrorist (CNT) in Barangay Consorcia for years.

The mass surrender ceremony was witnessed by Las Nieves Mayor Avelina S. Rosales; Gerry Joey Laurito, the Provincial Administrator of Agusan del Norte; Lt. Col Julius Cesar C. Paulo, INF (GSC) PA, Commanding Officer of 23IB; PLt. Fritzel V. Cubillan, Chief of Las Nieves Municipal Police Station; Dir. Rey M. Cueva of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) of Agusan del Norte; Ms. Karen S. Rosales, head of the Youth for Peace in Las Nieves; and the member of Sanguniang Bayan of Las Nieves. Barangay Captain Wennie A. Loquinte, together with the members of the barangay council joined by hundreds of residents of Consorcia.

It can be recalled that a peace consultation and dialogue, locally known as pulong-pulong, was conducted last December 18, 2020 in Barangay Consorcia. During the activity, the residents expressed their issues and concerns, especially on peace and order. They also lamented on the continuing terroristic activities of the CNTs and voiced out their worries on the recruitment of the terrorists among the vulnerable sectors in their community, especially the youths. The 23IB, during the pulong-pulong, also provided the residents with inputs and information on the different schemes the CNT members utilize in recruitment. When enlightened, the residents, especially the members of MBs and UGMOs decided to surrender to the government.

During the mass surrender activity, the MBs and UGMOs also handed over to the government nine (9) Caliber 22 (Airgun) rifles, four (4) homemade shotguns with two (2) live ammunition, and one (1) Caliber 38 pistol with five (5) live ammunition.

Alias “Nong” was among the MBs who surrendered and shared his experience and difficulties when he was still supporting the communist movement.

“Sulod sa dugay nga panahon, mesuporta ko sa walhong kalihukan. Nahimo kong usa sa MB ug tigkulekta ug binulan nga kwarta sa katawhan para palit ug bugas sa mga NPAs. Ila usab kong ginapa apil sa mga rallies ug nag apil ko sa ilang aktibidad sa bukid nga mao ang ilang Anibersaryo. Gituman nako tanan nilang gpabuhat sa ako, usahay naa pay mga samaron sa mudagan sa ako ug gipang tabangan ug gitambalan nako sila pero wala man lang koy nadawat bisan pasalamat man lang. Usahay mag hatod pakog supply sa pagkaon sa ila bisan wala nakoy mapakaon sa akong pamilya, bisan gabie or kaadlawong dako ug layo pa gyod kaayo ako nang ihatod. Daghan silay mga saad nga maka agni ug kabatan.unan. Karon, naningkamot ko nga dili maka sulod sa walhong kalihukan ang akong mga anak. Ako silang gipa trabaho, gipa working aron dili mahisama sa akong naagian ug mibiya najud ko sa kalihukan kay wala gyod koy nakita nga suporta gikan sa ila. Sa tanang katawhan sa Brgy Consorcia, nangayo kog pasaylo kaninyo kay nahimo ko ninyog kahadlukan kaniadto sa panahong nag sige pakog pangilkil. Dili na nako usbon ug dli najud ko muhatag suporta sa NPAs”

In her message, Mayor Rosales lauded the courageous act of the residents of Consorcia for condemning the CNT and making a turn to the right path.

“As you chose to start a new life, you have finally made up your minds to cut ties and withdrew your support to them. We are grateful that you have finally realized that there is no tomorrow with the presence of CPP NPA Terrorists in your barangay. This program is not only for the Army, the police, and the government agencies. We want nothing but peace and development. We can only achieve this through your cooperation,” Rosales said.

Provincial Administrator Laurito, who represented Gov. Dale B. Corvera, expressed gladness for the decreasing number of CNT members and supporters in the province.

“Our government is always here to listen to your concern and is very eager to give the basic services to the people.We are glad that you have denounced your support to the CPP-NPA Terrorists for hindering the development interventions,” Laurito said.

The head of the Youth for Peace in Las Nieves, Karen S. Rosales asked the parents to look over their children to prevent them from being recruited by the CNTs, and transform them as effective youth in the community.

“The youths are among the vulnerable sectors of the community and the CNTs are taking undue advantage of their vulnerability. Let us go hand in hand to end the 52 years of deceptive recruitment that have been destroying the future of our youth,” Ms. Rosales said.

TESDA Dir. Cueva extended his compliments to the residents for their bravery.

“Now that you have withdrawn your support to the CNTs, development will surely boost in your community. In partnership with the LGU of Las Nieves, we at TESDA are providing support, especially in honing your knowledge and skills for increased productivity.”

Lt. Col. Paulo welcomed the former rebels and mass supporters and thanked them for the withdrawal of support and enslavement from the CNT.

“We are grateful that you denounced the CNT and finally cut your support with them. You also surrendered tools and devices used against the Army and the police. Rest assured that this kind of act will never be put to waste,” Paulo said.

The 23IB commander thanked the barangay officials of Consorcia for their support to the mass surrender activity.

“We thank you for the support you have given to us. Your Army, especially the troopers of 23IB, will always be your partner in attaining lasting peace and development here in Barangay Consorcia,” Paulo said.

He also reminded the residents to guard their community from the terroristic activities of the CNTs and shield the youth from the deceptive recruitment of the terrorists.

“Now that their number continues to decrease, they will never stop to regain their strength by recruiting new members. The first line of defense in shielding our youth against these terrorists are the families and the community as a whole. I also assure you that your 23IB is always ready to provide support to secure your community,” Paulo said.

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