At least nine New People's Army (NPA) rebels operating in Catanduanes gave up their armed struggle and surrendered on Monday to a Philippine Army (PA) official, Army Maj. Angelo Guzman, PA Bicol spokesperson, said Thursday.
Guzman said the strength of the communist movement is slowly waning after government forces heightened its "Bayanihan" program, an internal peace and security initiative aimed to end the four decades-old insurgency problem in the country.
Quoting Army Lt. Col Rodolfo Batang, commanding officer of the Army's 83rd Infantry Battalion, he said the surrender of nine NPA rebels here is an indication that the command's Bayanihan program is going on in full throttle.
Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, the newly installed AFP chief of staff, in a command conference in Manila told various AFP commanders to make "insurgency insignificant" by 2016.
"They (rebels) have made the right decision to go down the mountains and abandoned the armed struggle and joined the main stream of society," Guzman said.
He identified those who surrendered as Victor Soriao alias Vicvic, Edna Tavera alias Rona, Dante Coranes alias "Nhads", father and son Domingo dela Cruz Sr. alias "Kikay-Kikay" and Domingo Dela Cruz Jr., Eddie Tesorero alias "Taptap", Quimpo Ralla alias "Lilo", Florida Francisco alias "Pida" and Francisco Mejares alias "Ikwi."
Guzman said the NPA rebels surrendered in separate occasions from Jan. 20 to Jan. 27.