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R-PSB key to let more rebels surrender in Mindanao

July 24, 2023 Alfred P. Dalizon 144 views

RebelsThe Revitalized-Pulis sa Barangay or R-PSB program of the Philippine National Police is seen as a major factor behind the surrender of New People’s Army members and supporters in Mindanao, the Journal Group learned yesterday.

Early this month, PNP chief General Benjamin C. Acorda Jr., joined by Area Police Command-Eastern Mindanao commander, Lieutenant Gen. Filmore B. Escobal, formally welcomed back to the folds of the law 44 NPA rebels belonging to the CPP/NPA Northcentral Mindanao Regional Committee.

Acorda also inspected a cache of high-powered weapons recovered by the local police in an operation in Barangay Lapok in Talakag, Bukidnon during his visit to the Cagayan de Oro headquarters of the Police Regional Office 10.

The weapons, which include one caliber 50 improvised sniper rifle, three cal. 5.56 M-16 automatic rifles, three cal. 7.62 M-14 rifles, three cal. 7.62 CZ rifles, and two cal. .45 semi-automatic pistols were found inside a drum buried underneath by local guerrillas.

A tip from a former NPA member enabled officers from the Bukidnon Police Provincial Office, the APC-EM, the R-PSB Miarayon team and the 12th Special Action Company of the PNP Special Action Force to find the exact location of the buried weapons last July 2, said Lt. Gen. Escobal.

“This reduction in operational capabilities has considerably hampered their ability to carry out acts of violence, thereby contributing to the restoration of peace and security in the affected areas in Northern Mindanao,” said the APC-Eastern Mindanao head.

The PNP chief has instructed the new PNP Director for Police-Community Relations, Major Gen. Edgar Alan O. Okubo, to implement the R-PSB program nationwide.

Okubo said that in terms of Counter White Area Operations programs of the government, he also intends to work with the PNP Directorate for Intelligence and their counterparts from the Armed Forces of the Philippines to have an efficient and comprehensive data on different sectors aligned with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front-New People’s Army.

The official said his goal is to fully implement the R-PSB program nationwide and eradicate insurgency in so-called Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAS) in some parts of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

The official has already started the program in Samar amid an order from President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ R. Marcos Jr., who has expressed optimism the province will be finally ‘insurgency-free’ before the end of 2023.

The move will also help address drug affectation, the 8 Focused Crimes and the presence of CPP/NDF/NPA ‘fronts’ and underground organizations in urban areas of the country.

During his visit to the PRO-10, Acorda commended the policemen, led by Major Anthony Towned, Captain Srailland dela Vega and Lieutenant Jan Kevin Antonio, for confiscating the hidden rebel guns.

Acorda also personally greeted the 44 former NPA rebels who used to operate in the region. He said that the NPA weapons were retrieved through the collaborative effort of their R-PSB team and other law enforcement agencies in the region.

The R-PSB is a flagship program of APC-Eastern Mindanao which aims to establish safe and conflict-resilient communities, apart from preparing them for further development.

These milestones serve as a testament to the determination of the communities, as they willingly abandoned their support to the CPP/NDF/NPA.

“The seamless collaboration between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP against the systematic resource generation of the NPA through extortion, robbery and other illegal means significantly disrupted their logistical support, funding and recruitment efforts,” said Lt. Gen. Escobal.

According to Acorda, they are encouraging all NPA rebels to go back to the folds of the law and start a new life by availing themselves of the offers of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

This commitment to reconciliation and national healing is bolstered by the readiness through the NTF-ELCAC and other government initiatives to facilitate their reintegration, providing essential support and opportunities to rebuild their lives while actively contributing to the development of their communities, he added.

Since 2016, over 25,000 members, sympathizers and supporters of the NPA have surrendered to the government and abandoned the struggle they are allegedly fighting for.

The program has also led to the dismantling of 16 CPP/NPA guerrilla fronts and 6 regional guerrilla units and resulted in the weakening of 5 other major NPA rebel fronts.

Majority of those who have already yielded to the government were either NPA fighters or members of its Militia ng Bayan while the rest are mass supporters and members of CPP/NPA underground mass organizations.

The NPA guerrillas who yielded since 2016 also turned over hundreds of assorted firearms, including automatic rifles and handguns as well as improvised explosive devices and anti-personnel mines.

Just like Acorda and Escobal, other concerned officials said that the recovery of these arms caches is reflective of the dwindling numbers of NPA rebels.

The NTF-ELCAC has aired its determination to encourage more communist-led rebels rejoin their families and live peaceful and useful lives again.

The Marcos government also announced its “resolve to rescue more rebels and provide them with holistic support so they may rejoin their loved ones in the communities and contribute to the betterment of society.”

These are also geared to “further strengthen the resilience of the Filipino people from the communist terrorist group’s malevolent influence and continuing attempts to cause terror and chaos in our land.”