Tuesday, April 21, 2020

NPA fighter yields 'than steal food' from villagers

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 21, 2020): NPA fighter yields 'than steal food' from villagers (By Alexander Lopez)

NO MORE HUNGER. Alias Jack, a New People’s Army combatant, surrenders to Lt. Col. Francisco Molina, Jr. (right), commander of the Army's 23rd Infantry Battalion, on April 6, 2020. Jack says hunger pushed him and six other members of the NPA's Guerrilla Front 4-A operating in Agusan del Norte to return to the fold of the law. (Photo courtesy of 23IB)

A communist New People’s Army (NPA) fighter who surrendered earlier this month on Monday said that the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) has made the rebels' life harder in the mountains.

"Jack", a former member of Guerrilla Front 4-A of the NPA's North Central Mindanao Regional Committee,
said food had become scarce for the rebel group when local governments in Agusan del Norte started implementing community quarantine measures to contain Covid-19 last month.

“We were hungry and tired. We could not demand or steal food from the masses because they too are affected by the quarantine,” Jack told Philippine News Agency on Monday (April 20).

Rather than join his comrades to force hinterland communities to give them food, Jack said he decided to surrender instead to ensure that his family is well-provided amid the hardships being felt during the pandemic.

“I know the government has already provided them with food through recent relief operations. But the food they received is only enough for their members,” Jack said of the hinterland villagers who have been the NPA's regular source of food supplies.

Jack said he was also worried about the safety of his family as the Covid-19 continues to threaten Agusan del Norte and neighboring areas.

“I also thought there’s no more use to continue fighting the government. After more than three years in the movement, I gained nothing. The promise our leaders made before are not realized. Instead, my life turned miserable. I cannot provide my family and children a good future,” he added.

Jack was accompanied by six other NPA fighters when he surrendered to the headquarters of the Army's 23rd Infantry Battalion on April 6.

Jack and his colleagues turned over an M16 rifle, a .45 caliber pistol, three .38 caliber pistols, magazines, and assorted ammunition.

“We were surprised by the warm welcome given to us by the Army upon our surrender. In the movement, we were told that the Army would torture us once we surrender. Now we realize that all they told us were lies,” Jack said.

1Lt. Roel Maglalang, 23IB civil-military operations officer, said Jack was instrumental in the recent recovery of ammunitions cache belonging to the NPA.

“Our troops, through the direction provided by Jack, recovered 1,300 rounds of M16 ammunition buried in Barangay Aclan, Nasipit, Agusan del Norte,” Maglalang said.

Lt. Col. Francisco Molina Jr., 23IB commander, said the Army will not tire to "encourage the remaining NPA rebels to return to the government and their families".

“Even in the midst of crises, we continue to call unto our brothers to go down and join us in solving the current crises our country is facing. I am grateful that some of our brothers heed to this call and they are now with us. I hope others will follow the same,” Molina said.

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


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