The recent surrender of a medical officer and political instructor of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Northern Samar province is a huge setback to the rebels’ effort to recover previously-influenced communities, the Philippine Army said on Wednesday. Lt. Col. Joemar Buban, commander of the Philippine Army’s 20th Infantry Battalion said alias Leah, 45, former medical officer and political instructor of platoon 1, front committee (FC) 15, a sub-regional committee of the NPA, formally surrendered at their headquarters in Las Navas, Northern Samar on July 22. She turned over two M16 rifles, a long magazine, three short magazines, 75 rounds of 5.56 ball ammunition, and two improvised explosives. “The continuing surrender and neutralization of the members of the NPA’s FC 15 highly contributes to the inevitable collapse of the communist terrorist groups in Northern Samar, particularly in the towns of Las Navas, Catubig and Laoang,” Buban said in a statement. The surrender of the NPA officer, he said, would encourage other rebels to abandon the armed struggle, which would lead to the dismantling of FC 15 and the declaration of Northern Samar as insurgency-free. The military identified her as the one responsible for intimidation, grave threats, and extortion activities to the populace and small businesses in the communities in Northern Samar. She also served as spokesperson of the Northern Samar Small Farmers Association. 2nd Lt. Joyce Ann Bayron, spokesperson of the Army’s 20th Infantry Battalion, said in a phone interview that Leah is currently under their custody undergoing assessment and debriefing to officially avail of the enhanced comprehensive local integration program of the government. ‘Her surrender is a result of a series of localized peace engagements in the communities within our area of operations and the frequent calls of the local government units of Las Navas to all the families and victims of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA’s deceptive ideology and false promises,’ Bayron added. Las Navas, a fourth-class town in Northern Samar with a population of 38,000, has been the center of propaganda by several organizations linked to the CPP-NPA. Northern Samar is considered an NPA stronghold in Eastern Visayas due to its poor road network, thick forest, high poverty incidence, and low level of education in upland communities.
Source: Philippines News Agency