Finding no schools in NPA camps, 3 Lumad rebels surrender

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Finding no schools in NPA camps, 3 Lumad rebels surrender
The former NPA rebels say their leader promised to provide them with licensed teachers, but this did not come true

MANILA, Philippines – Three Manobo members of the New People’s Army (NPA) have surrendered to the army on Thursday, December 28, after finding no schools in the rebel camps. 

Siblings Ryan and Daniel Mama, as well as, their cousin Ruben Pagiloy left their camp in Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat and formally surrendered to the government.

Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc, who commands the 33rd Infantry (Makabayan) Battalion, received the ex-NPA rebels at around 2:30 pm. 

Ryan said they broke away from the NPA as its Visayan commander, whom he named as Ka Yoyo, did not fulfill his promises to bring licensed teachers to educate the recruits and give their families seedlings and fertilizers. 

Ryan has 3 children.

“He promised me that he will provide my family with fertilizer and seedlings. Most importantly, I was interested in getting a formal education from school teachers that he said, will come to share new skills and knowledge to us,” said Ryan.

Pagiloy was also looking forward to earn a school diploma through the help of the NPA. 

“I never set foot in a government-run school. I grabbed the opportunity of widening my understanding about the world, especially the problems confronted by the tribe today,” he said in Ilonggo.

Ryan, Daniel, and Pagiloy are now hoping they can still pursue their schooling through the Department of Education’s Alternative Learning System. (READ: Catching up on ALS: Challenges of a ‘parallel system’)

The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which is planning to “overthrow” President Rodrigo Duterte as it celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2018.

Winning the public, winning the war

According to Cabunoc, the NPA has convinced members of the Dulangan Manobo tribe to join their cause by taking advantage of an ongoing land dispute between the Lumad and the M&S Company.  

“Visayan communist recruiters penetrated the Lumad communities using legal organizations like CLANS, MISFI, KALUMARAN and KALUHAMIN. They indoctrinated the people to hate the government, prompting many of them to join the armed group,” Cabunoc said. 

He added that about 90% of the NPA’s Guerilla Front 73 in the province are indigenous peoples.

For now, Cabunoc’s battalion is aiming to get the public to support the government’s campaign against the rebels. 

“The decisive terrain in an insurgency is human terrain. We need to dominate in the battle of opinion, in touching the hearts of the populace, and in getting the support of the people. To achieve this, the civil government and the military establishment must synergize their efforts towards a common goal,” he said. –

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