The Philippine Army’s (PA) Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) said it already ended “the most advanced and strategic Sub-Regional Committee 5 (SRC-5) of the Southern Mindanao Regional Command (SMRC)” of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
During Monday’s virtual press briefing of the National Task Force to End Local Communists Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), Lt. Gen. Greg Almerol, Commander of the EastMinCom announced the dismantling of the SRC 5 and presented its high-ranking NPA officers who surrendered. “This is first in the history sa Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at sa bansa natin na ang isang SRC ay nagsurrender sa gobyerno kaya this is the first time na nangyari at sa most advanced especially sa area ng Southern Mindanao Regional Committee.”
The former rebel officers are: Ida Marie Montero alias Mandy, Secretary and Finance Officer of the NPA’s SRC5; Renato Lubguban alias Jose, Deputy Secretary; Lutenant Apoga alias Macky, Commanding Officer, Sub-Regional Guerilla Unit (SRGU), SRC5; Lito Taluwa alias Lito, Acting CO, SRGU, SRC5 and Enrico Caramat alias Marco, Political Instructor, a student leader in Manila whose parents have been searching for him for the last four years.
Almerol said the leadership of the Headquarters SRC5, SMRC, and its SRGU surrendered to 1003rd Infantry Brigade under Colonel Consolito P Yecla of the 10th Infantry Division (10ID) on January 10, 13 and 16, 2022, at Sitio Minalong, Barangay Kahusayan in Kitaotao, Bukidnon and Sitio Sambulungan, Barangay Palma Gil in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.
He also said that the dismantling of the entire SMRC is “completely near as two weakened guerilla fronts (GF), 2 and 3” are the only remaining forces of the rebel command in the Indigenous People’s (IP) vast ancestral domain in Davao del Norte that reaches as far as Bukidnon and the entire Davao Region.
“I think the 10ID is confident na before our target date of June 2022 we’ll be able to dismantle the SMRC. I am happy for Major General Ernesto Torres Jr. of 10ID was able to accomplish this feat, and that during his time we were able to dismantle this guerilla fronts and bring peace and order dito sa area ng Region 11,” Almerol added.
Acknowledging the value and benefit of NTF-ELCAC’s whole-of-nation approach, Almerol also said the achievement is only made possible through the help and cooperation of the communities, the local government units, the various government agencies, and the Philippine National Police who intervened after barangays are cleared of NPAs.
Montero said they have already lost the “mass-based” from IP communities, as government projects continue to pour through the “whole-of-nation approach” initiated no less than by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte through the creation of the NTF-ELCAC.
“Game over na kami, sir. (It’s game over for us, sir.),” Montero said, after narrating that they are on the run for over six months as military and police kept hunting them with the help from IP tipsters who told them of their whereabouts.
“I had this feeling of relief. Tama ang desisyon ko to turn myself to the government. Malaki ang utang na loob ko sa military at government for giving me second chance to live,” Caramat said. He said he was happy to see his parents again as he hoped to live with them again.
Caramat admitted that as a young student he was deceived by Mao’s teaching and join the underground, “but overtime mawawala, nakita ko ang sincerity (of the government).” “Walang sense ang humawak ng baril para sa pagbabago,” he also said.
“Indeed, our efforts against the CPP-NPA in Southern Mindanao is on the endgame. Cadres after cadres have been neutralized, guerilla fronts after guerilla fronts have been dismantled. It’s time to end this insurgency. Not tomorrow, but today. Again, I am calling the remaining deceived members of the Communist Terrorist Groups (CTG) to lay down your arms, return to the folds of the law and live a peaceful life ahead.” Torres said, adding he was very optimistic that the remaining rebels in the region “is on the verge of extinction,” and by the end of April this year they will achieve their mission.