Hands on combat but hands on compassion as well: 39IB's action on rebels' surrender

    There is no more running nor hiding for the 11 CPP- NPA-Terrorists (CNTs) in North Cotabato after the troops of the 39th Infantry Battalion captured them, the result of a series of encounters brought by the Philippine Army’s focused military operations.
    Contrary to the propaganda of the CPP-NPA-NDF that when NPAs are captured they are mistreated or killed by the military, the incident demonstrated both hands of the Philippine Army in dealing with the country’s rebels --- a hand that is adept to combat threats and a hand that extends compassion to insurgents.
    Committed to dismantle the CPP-NPA-Terrorists (CNTs) in the region, the 39th Infantry Battalion (39IB) after receiving reports about concerned citizens, responded and clashed against members of Pulang Bagani Command (PBC) - Dismantled Guerilla Front 51 (DGF 51) on May 20, 2021 at Barangay New Israel, Makilala, North Cotabato.
    In the two-day operation, the 39IB eventually captured other CNT members in the same municipality. The series of military operations led to the apprehension of CNTs leadership or High Value Target (HVT), high-powered firearms and surrender of other CNT members.
    PBC and DGF51 are notorious for conducting extortion activities. In 2019 and 2020 alone, the group collected approximately P3.3 Million from 125 extortion activities victimizing private businesses and individuals.
    The group’s leader, alias “Maruz” who also serves as the Secretary of PBC, was apprehended with a warrant for his arrest for having a standing case for murder, robbery, homicide, and other cases. Maruz also led rebels in Sitio Camarin in Napnapan in Pantukan last 2015, where the military received reports of extortion from nearby villages. He will undergo proper disposition of the cases for each charge before the court.
    According to International Legal Protection of Human Rights in Armed Conflict of the United Nations Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner, “human rights treaties prohibit the arbitrary deprivation of life.” It is also specified that the “wounded and the sick must be collected and cared for,” and food and medical supplies, public health, and hygiene must be available. This is evident with the action taken by the 39IB when three wounded rebels were rushed to and treated in a hospital in Davao city after the firefight.
    Aside from proper health care, the Philippine Army also provided the surrenderees with livelihood assistance in line with its duty to fulfill economic, social, and cultural rights. This is part of Army’s efforts along with the local government units and the communities involved to boost the peace and development in the province with 36 barangays now cleared of CPP-NPA influence.
    According to 10th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Ernesto Torres Jr., the captured combatants and surrenderees will be enrolled in the government's Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) to receive financial and livelihood assistance. Through this program, they can be reintegrated back to the community, be with their families, and start over with their new normal lives. They will also be assessed if they have committed crimes. If they will not be sent to jail for crimes committed, the ex-rebels will undergo a rehabilitation program.
    After the encounter of 39IB with the CNTs, the rebels were encouraged to abandon the armed struggle and seek freedom from the deceit of the CPP-NPA-NDF. Although the rebels will still be held accountable for their violations of the law, the Philippine Army is ready to help them leave behind their lives as outlaws and experience a better life under the folds of the government.#
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