MURCIA-- Around 254 mass supporters have surrendered to the Philippine Army since last week.

Of the number, 229 yielded to the 79th Infantry Battalion (IB) based in Sagay City while 114 personalities composed of 98 former mass base supporters and 16 militia ng bayan or individuals who have been indoctrinated surrendered to the authorities in San Carlos City. They also pledged their loyalty to the government and condemned the New People’s Army (NPA) in a ceremony held in San Carlos City on Monday, February 25.

They were from Barangays of Quezon, Guadalupe, Buluangan, Nataban, and Cod-cod.

Lieutenant Colonel Emelito Thaddeus Logan, commander of 79th IB, in a press briefing, said through the community support program (CSP), a “pulong-pulong” were conducted in villages to educate the people about the deception of the NPA, Logan said.

“We’re going down to the grassroots and check their situation and assess what the government can give to them,” he added.

The military visited two villages in Victorias City, five in San Carlos City, six in Escalante City, one each in E.B. Magalona town, Silay City, and Manapla town.

He also noted the cooperation of the local government officials in their anti-insurgency campaign.

“They are now aware of the directive of the Department of Interior and Local Government to never support, help, or have access with the terrorists,” he added.

Logan said the thrust of the CSP is to hold youth leadership summit and peace advocacy symposium to children especially out of school youths who are vulnerable to the influence of the NPAs.

As this developed, 10 mass supporters also surrendered to the 15th IB based in the Sixth District, seven in the 62nd IB, and four in the 3rd Civil Military Operations Battalion.

Lieutenant Colonel Egberto Dacoscos, commander of the 62nd IB, said they are implementing a holistic approach to address issues for a long-term solution to the insurgency problem.

For his part, Lieutenant Colonel Moh-Yusop Hasan, commander of 3rd (CMO) Battalion, said he is expecting more surrenderers as the negotiation is ongoing.

“We will ensure that the people will be given more services to improve their way of living when they support the government,” he added.

Hasan said they will continue to conduct intensified and focused community program.

Meanwhile, the 303rd Infantry Brigade led by its commander, Colonel Benedict Arevalo, held a two-day seminar to the members of the three battalion units in the province to reiterate their role and improve their ways in conducting CSPs and connecting with the media in information dissemination during the Information Support Summit 2019 at Camp Major Nelson Gerona headquarters in Barangay Minoyan, Murcia town on Tuesday, February 26.