From the Gobal Times (Apr 18): 37 leftist rebels yield to govt in S. Philippines
Over 30 alleged members of the leftist rebel group of New People's Army (NPA) have surrendered to government troops in Southern Philippines on Friday, the military said.
At least 37 members of the NPA's Armed Propaganda Unit, People's Militia and the tribal Solid Mass Organization (MASSO) turned themselves in to the Philippine Army's 26th Infantry Battalion in Talacogon, a town in Mindanao's Agusan del Sur province around 8 a. m., Captain Christian Uy, the spokesperson for the army's 4th Infantry Division, said in a statement to Xinhua.
Uy said the surrenderors included an NPA squad leader who also handed over an Ingram sub-machine pistol. The other former rebels also surrendered 36 various firearms and improvised explosives.
"The reason of their surrender is a realization that their cooperation with the NPAs brought them no benefits but only made them suffer," said Uy. "The NPAs exploited them by using them as work force in constructing their bases, manning their communal farms and in manufacturing and laying of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Device)," he added.
He said in the last six months, the army's 4th ID has facilitated and received the surrender of 144 rebel fighters and an equal number of weapons.
The 4,000-strong NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, is fighting a leftist insurgency in 60 Philippine provinces since 1969.
This is in line with the instruction of President Benigno Aquino III to the commissioners during their call on him on January 30 that the first submission needs not to be full text of the proposal. A complete BBL proposal will be submitted after the Holy Week, bearing the signatures of the commissioners.
A signing ceremony is scheduled on April 20 at the BTC Office in Cotabato City. Among the guests who are invited to the occasion were Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, Secretary Teresita “Ging” Deles, GPH chief negotiator Miriam Ferrer-Coronel, Bishop Colin Bagaforo, Cotabato City Mayor Japal “Jojo” Guiani Jr., Mayor Ramon Piang of North Upi, Mayor Abdullah Campong of South Upi, selected members of the MILF Central Committee, government and MILF ceasefire committees, and members of the International Monitoring Team (IMT). Members of the media were also invited to cover the signing ceremony.
Comes signing day, all the 15 commissioners are expected to sign the BBL without reservations. As a matter of fact, one lady commissioner, a nominee of the government, requested that every commissioner will be given a copy for posterity’s sake. The BTC agreed but the copy will not be given to the commissioners until at a later date when full disclosure of the BBL will not compromise its smooth deliberation in Congress. Besides, an engagement with the government in this regard is required.
Affixing one’s signature to a historic document is truly historic. It is an episode of a lifetime that only few people are called and given such a rare opportunity. In the same vein, not signing such a historic document is also historic in the reverse.
The decision to sign the proposed BBL by every commissioner was a collective will of the BTC during its plenary session last April 13. There was no dissenting voice, except an earlier one expressed by BTC Chair Mohagher Iqbal for his preference for just affixing the initials of the commissioners in the proposed BBL. But he was alone in such view; no one sees it as the right course of action. Thus, he has to bow down to the will of the majority.
However, if by chance, any commissioner decides not to affix his/her signature to the proposed BBL, such is within the purview of his or her right. No one can question that. But one thing sure is that he or she has to explain why he or she did not sign. History will judge his or her decision. But in the immediate, the negative decision will surely make the spoilers happy; they will feast on this even if the decision was based on reasons personally well-thought-out.
Better this early, every BTC commissioner must examine his or her conscience whether what side to vote: positively or negatively --- and it is the right thing.