By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

Former NPA rebels (NCRPO photo)

MANILA – A total of 155 members of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) have surrendered to different police units in Metro Manila from January to Dec. 26 this year, the National Capital Region Police (NCRPO) said Monday.

Since January, 16 were arrested and one died in a police operation.

The latest to surrender Monday were 55 former members of the rebel group and turned over to the authorities their firearms and ammunition.

Following the death of their leader, CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison, the government has urged the rebels to give up the armed struggle and return to mainstream society.

“We believe that despite the difference in belief and ideology, we are one in pursuing a safe and progressive community for our children and families.” NCRPO chief Maj. Gen. Jonnel Estomo said in a media statement.

“We never meant to ‘red tag’ anybody. We only call for peace and unity. This decade-long armed conflict has brought so much violence in our country already. It is high time to finally end this, move on, and unite towards the betterment of this nation,” he added.

During the event, surrenderers took their oath of allegiance to the government, renounced their membership and ideologies, as well as partook in the ceremonial turn-over of firearms and ripping of rebel flags.

They are now under the custody of the NCRPO for debriefing and will get assistance for their enrollment to the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive and Local Integration Program. (PNA)