A former New People’s Army (NPA) officer and 79 followers surrendered to government troops in Maramag, Bukidnon, on Monday, a military spokesman said Tuesday.

Benjamin Salusad alias Nonong/Loloy/Ben, former commanding officer of the NPA Guerrilla Front 6’s Sangay sa Platon Pampropaganda 3, and his followers went to the 8th Infantry Battalion headquarters around 11 a.m., Army 4th Infantry Division spokesman Maj. Eugenio Osias said.

The rebels brought seven M16-A1 rifles, five M653 rifles, an M14 rifle, three Garand rifles, two Browning Automatic Rifles, six Carbine rifles, a Thompson sub-machinegun, claymore mine, and other armaments, Osias said.

Of those who surrendered, 31 were “full-time” NPA members while the 49 are members of the “Militia ng Bayan.” Seventy of them are males and 10 are females, Osias said.

The surrenderees, mostly members of the Tiggwahanon, Matigsalog, and Manobo tribes, joined the NPA in hopes to protect their “ancestral domain” among others, but left because of the rebel group’s “discrimination” towards indigenous peoples, according to Osias.

Colonel Romeo Gapuz, commander of the 403rd Brigade, said the surrender and handing over of firearms of the 80 decreased the NPA Guerilla Front 6’s strength and firepower by as much as 25 percent.

The military promised to provide the surrenderees financial and livelihood assistance. (John Roson)

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