DAVAO ORIENTAL – More than 60 low and high-powered firearms recovered by government troops and surrendered by the former members of the New People’s Army have been formally turned over by the Philippine Army to the custody of the Philippine National Police.
On Tuesday, June 16, 2020, Brigadier General Jose Eriel Niembra, Commander of the 701st Kagitingan Brigade of the Philippine Army formally handed over the recovered firearms to the Davao Oriental Police Provincial Office represented by its Deputy Provincial Director for Administration Police Colonel Ferlito Mejia.
As per guidelines, these firearms will be subjected for assessment, ballistic inspections, and demilitarization by the PNP before recommending them for the Firearms Remuneration Program under the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
During the ceremonial turnover held at the 701st Brigade Headquarters, Brigadier General Niembra said that the recovery of these firearms which were once used to terrorize communities and attack government troops, “is a huge victory and the results of government’s intensive operations on their areas of operations as part of the Oplan Kalinaw Mindanao.”
“We are able to reduce their (NPA) firearms by almost 67 percent. We also encouraged the surrender of many regular members of the New People’s Army operating in the hinterland mountains of Davao Oriental,” Brig. Gen. Niembra said, adding that “this is really a big blow to the NPA fronts operating in their area of operation.”
He said that the NPA’s attacks in the recent months in the province’s hinterland villages were aimed at regaining their bases and recruiting additional regular members in order to replace their massive loss in terms of manpower.
However, the NPA failed at penetrating the communities, said Brig. Gen. Niembra. “As of now, the community itself shoos away this lawless terrorist group that only adds up to the burdens of the innocent civilians amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
The rebels who surrendered these firearms were among those who surfaced and yielded to the government since the last quarter of 2019, surrendering with them low to high-caliber weapons such as pistols, revolvers, and different types of rifles.
Currently, these now-former rebels are enrolled in the government’s E-CLIP which promises them a new life and new opportunities as they start over. They have recently completed the deradicalization program at 701st Infantry Brigade last June 15, 2020, and are set to be turned over to the Happy Home – a halfway house for former rebels.
Department of the Interior and Local Government Provincial Director Orle Cabaobao said that the operation of E-CLIP remains despite the public health emergency in order to sustain the government gains on peace and order by reducing the numbers of NPA rebels and urge them to surrender to the folds of the law.
“We have already transmitted pertinent documents of our former rebels who are currently enrolled at Happy Home to the Central Office and their response was positive, meaning there is still an earmarked budget for our campaign against this terrorist group,” Provincial Director Cabaobao said.
The Provincial Government, on the other hand, continues to encourage the former rebels to always take part in the government agenda by becoming the multiplier of efforts for long-lasting peace and sustainable development, especially in the hinterlands.
“I am very thankful that you have returned to the folds of the government. I am hoping for your full support and trust in our government because, through our concerted efforts, we will attain our goals for our people in Davao Oriental,” says Governor Dayanghirang in a statement conveyed by Provincial Director Cabaobao. By Van Jorain O. Rufin with PIO/ Photos by Eden Jhan Licayan