OATH OF ALLEGIANCE. A total of 82 former members and supporters of the CPP-NPA-NDF take their oath of allegiance to the government in a ceremony held in Barangay Cozo, Casiguran, Aurora on Saturday (Aug. 15, 2020). Out of the total figure, six are former CPP-NPA members while 76 were members of the Bataris group. (Photo courtesy of the Army's 91st Infantry Battalion)

BALER, Aurora – A surrendered rebel on Saturday urged parents to keep their eye on their children to prevent the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) from exploiting them and other vulnerable sectors.

The surrenderer is among the 82 former members and supporters of the CPP-NPA-NDF who have withdrawn their support to the communist terrorist group and vowed loyalty to the government.

Out of the total number, six are former CPP-NPA members while 76 were members of the Bahay Talakayan para sa Rekonstraksyon at Ikakauunlad ng Sambayanan (Bataris).

Lt. Col. Reandrew P. Rubio, commanding officer of the Army’s 91st Infantry Battalion (91IB), said the surrenderers took their oath of allegiance in a simple ceremony held Saturday in Barangay Cozo, Casiguran town, this province.

Rubio said the surrenderers realized that they were being deceived by the terrorist group and vowed to support the programs and initiatives of the government for peace and development under President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order (EO) 70 or the “whole-of-nation approach” in ending local communist armed conflict.

He said the mass surrender was facilitated by the 91IB, 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company, Aurora Police Provincial Office and Casiguran Municipal Police Station.

“We are encouraging those active NPA bandits to return to the folds of the law. This is the right time to surface and to avail the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) and other services of the government,” Rubio said in an interview.

He said that under EO 70, government agencies are working closely with local government units and members of the community to directly address the roots of the armed struggle.

Rolando dela Cruz, one of the six former rebels, appealed to parents to help the government save the youth from joining terrorist groups.

“Ingatan ang ating mga anak dahil sila ang madaling mahikayat ng mga NPA (Take care of our children because they can easily be persuaded by the NPA),” dela Cruz said.

Remedios dela Cruz, president of the Samahang Magsasakang Organiko under Bataris, said they were convinced by the terrorist group due to lack of education.

“Kami po ay nahikayat dahil sa kakulangan sa edukasyon at humihingi kami ng tulong sa kasundaluhan para mabantayan kami at matulungan sa aming mga hinaing sa lupa (We were persuaded due to lack of education and we are asking help from military troops to guard us and help us in our grievances on land),” he said.

1st Lt. Bobby A. Ferrer, commander of Bravo Company of 91IB, led the former rebels in pledging allegiance to the government, which was followed by a peace rally and distribution of food packs and coconut trees for planting.

Last Aug. 12, eight members of the Panlalawigang Alyansang Magbubukid ng Aurora (Pamana) also withdrew their support to the communist terrorist group.

Bataris and Pamana are categorized as underground mass organizations (UGMO) members. (PNA)