VIGAN CITY, Nov. 25 (PIA) -- A total of 22 members of the Underground Mass Organizations (UGMO) withdrew their support to the CPP-NPA Terrorists (CNTs) and took their oath of allegiance to the government in a ceremony held on Nov. 23 in Nagbukel, Ilocos Sur.
Of this number, 17 are members of Pambansang Kilusang Magsasaka (PKM) from Barangays Taleb, Mapisi, Bandril, and Lapting, two are members of Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (MKBK), and three are members of Kabatang Makabayan (KM) from Barangays Taleb and Lapting all from the said town.
Nagbukel Mayor Amalia Cabrera led the oath taking ceremony followed by the declaration of the CNTs as Persona-non-Grata in Barangays Taleb, Bandril, and Lapting through the barangay resolutions and the unveiling of Persona-non-Grata tarpaulin.
Afterwards, the 81st Infantry Battalion, 702nd Infantry Brigade, 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army conducted a re-orientation and redirection lecture to the said surrenderers on how they were deceived by the CNTs and to show them the effect of the presence of armed groups in the area.
In her message, Mayor Cabrera lauded the courage of the UGMO members to withdraw their support to the CNTs and challenged them to get back on their own feet living in peace and order on the side of the government.
"Nagpapasalamat ako sa inyo at nagbalik loob kayo sa ating gobyerno. Ating isipin ang kinabukasan ng ating pamilya at kapakanan ng karamihan. Nawa'y ating tandaan ang ating responsibilidad bilang mamamayang Pilipino upang mapanatili ang kapayapaan sa ating komunidad," she said.
Cabrera also thanked the 81st IB for deploying the Community Support Program (CSP) teams in their town that provide security and assistance in the delivery of the government programs to her constituents.
The surrender of the UGMO members is attributed to the efforts of the Community Support Program team of the 81st IB PA in delivering enhanced services in the different areas of Ilocos Sur.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Rodrigo Marinas, Jr., Commanding Officer of the 81IB said, "Malaking pagsubok sa atin lahat ang kinakaharap nating problema ng insurhensiya dito sa Ilocos Sur. Ngunit ang pagbawi nyo ng supporta sa mga Teroristang grupo ay simbolo na malaki ang pag-asa na sa konting panahon na lang ay matatapos na natin ang problemang ito para sa kapayapaan at pag unlad ng ating bayan. Nawa'y isaisip at isapuso natin ito. Lahat tayo ay may responsibilidad sa mandato ng kasalukuyang administrasyon at nananalangin kami na gagampanan ninyo ang inyong responsibilidad sa pagresolba sa problemang ito."
"Kami sa Philippine Army ay patuloy na makikipagtulungan sa ating mga local government units at national government agencies para maipakita sa inyo ang aming sinseridad sa pagtapos ng insurhensiya dito sa Ilocos Sur," Marinas added.
Through the Poverty Reduction Livelihood and Employment Cluster (PRLEC) of the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC), the government will provide assistance to the former UGMO members through different programs to equip them with livelihood and/or financial aid and trainings that will enable them to establish conflict resilient communities.
Last Nov. 20, five UGMO members in a village in Santiago town also pledged loyalty to the government wherein they burned effigies of CNTs operating in Ilocos Sur and received various assistance from the member-agencies of the PRLEC. (JCR/JPD/JMQ, PIA Ilocos Sur)