Rebel groups getting smaller in Davao City

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DAVAO CITY — The New People’s Army (NPA) continues to lose its members in Paquibato District here as another ranking political officer surrendered and handed over explosives to the 16th Infantry battalion under the 1003rd Infantry Brigade.

Capt. Erick Wynmer Calulot, the Civil-Military Operations Officer of 1003rd Infantry Brigade, said that Epifanio Blas, 49, married, and a resident of Barangay Malabog, Paquibato District, abandoned the NPA days before he surrendered on Thursday.

Calulot said Blas acted as assistant secretary of the NPA’s underground mass organization known as “Hingpit Organisadong Masa” or Local Party Branch in Barangay Malabog, which is one of the recently declared insurgency-free areas in this city.

Paquibato is the city’s pilot area of the Peace 911 — a peace and development initiative of the city government.

Calulot said Blas also surrendered nine Improvised explosive devices designed as anti-personnel mines. Blas surrendered after seeing the sincerity of the peace-building efforts of the 16th Infantry Battalion troops in the area, he added.

Col. Nolasco Mempin, the commander of the 1003rd Infantry Brigade, welcomed Blas’ surrender as an indication that the peace and development efforts of the government are drawing more NPA insurgents back to the folds of the law.

He said it is also a result of the military’s continuing efforts to completely clear the barangays from NPA influence.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

“Paquibato is transforming into a more peaceful state largely due to the combined peace and development efforts of the unit with Davao City Peace 911,” Mempin said. -PNA

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