By: Saul Pa-a
CAMP GEN. CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal — Eleven Mangyan tribesmen, who were erstwhile active supporters of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) terrorists, called it quits and voluntarily turned themselves in to Philippine Army and Philippine National Police (PNP) over the weekend.
The Indigenous People’s return to the fold of the law reportedly came after authorities conducted Community Support Operations in tribal communities in Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro.
The Mangyan tribe members, whose identities have been withheld for security reasons hail from Barangay Lisap in Bongabong. The tribesfolk abandoned what they called the “lost cause” of the communist-terrorist group’s local party, Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad (SPL) and the Milisyang Bayan (MB), the NPA’s armed militant wing.
According to the Mangyan surrenderers, three of them women, they were coerced into serving as spies of the outlawed NPA to monitor the presence of military and police in their communities.
Following the tribe members’ surrender, an IP alias “Aguy” told government forces of their frustration and exhaustion while being forced to work with the communist-terrorist group.
“Pagod na kaming maniwala sa mga kasinungalingan ng mga NPA. Ginagamit lang nila kami sa pansirili nilang layunin, ‘di nila tinutupad ang mga pangako nila sa amin (We are tired of all lies by the NPA. They only used us for their vested interest. They failed to fulfill what they have been promising to us),” Aguy narrated.
The Mangyan surrenderers are now undergoing debriefing and documentation for their enrollment in the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) to aid their transition back to the folds of the government.
Lt. Col. Alexander Arbolado, commanding officer of 4th Infantry Battalion (4IB) based in Oriental Mindoro, who facilitated their surrender, has appealed to the NPA to stop exploiting the innocent minds of the indigenous peoples.
“Spare them from violence and let them live peacefully. Stop exploiting them. Stop manipulating them to join your sagging ranks,” Arbolado said. (PNA)