By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

(Photo courtesy of PNP Public Information Office)

MANILA – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr., has renewed his call for the remaining New People’s Army (NPA) rebels to surrender and avail of the benefits being offered by the government through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

Sa mga natitira pa nating kapatid sa kabundukan ngayon ay may pag alinlangan pa ring sumuko, ang ating gobyerno at ang kapulisan ay andito lamang upang kayo ay tanggapin sa inyong pagbabalik loob sa panig ng ating pamahalaan. At ang ating hangad, sa darating na mga araw ay makasama natin sila upang maranasan din nilang mamuhay ng payapa at walang takot (To those of our remaining brothers and sisters in the mountains who are still hesitant to surrender, our government and the police are only here to welcome you back to our government. And our desire, in the days to come, is to be with them so that they too can experience living in peace and without fear),” Azurin said in a statement Wednesday night.

This came after 10 former rebels and members of communist front organizations withdrew their support from the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP)-NPA in Central Luzon last Dec. 17 and 18 and pledged allegiance to the national government.

Citing the report of Police Regional Office (PRO) 3 director, Brig. Gen. Cesar Pasiwen, Azurin confirmed the surrender of one NPA member, five members of Anakpawis, and one each from the Kilusang Larangang Guerilla-Tarlac-Zambales, Milisyang Bayan, Gabriela, and underground mass organization in the provinces of Bulacan, Bataan, Tarlac, and Zambales.

Azurin said the former rebels likewise turned over to the authorities their firearms and ammunition.

Pasiwen, meanwhile, said the continuous joint efforts of the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) and its persistent campaign against terrorism resulted in the voluntary withdrawal of support from the communist groups.

He noted that the peace engagement activities of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) being carried out by the Philippine National Police and Philippine Army, such as information dissemination, and situational interviews made the former communist rebels aware of the government’s programs and the opportunity to change their lives.

Pasiwen said the RTF-ELCAC-3 would continue the whole-of-nation approach against communist rebels to achieve peace and national unity.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it has not monitored any threats ahead of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) 54th anniversary on Dec. 26.

“We have not monitored any threat to cause unnecessary fear and anxiety among our people, only the irresponsible and reckless statement of the CPP who cannot accept strategic defeat. They could not even pause to pray for their leader’s (CPP founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison) demise,” AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar said in a message on Wednesday night. (with Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)