MALAYBALAY CITY, Bukidnon (PIA)—For 20 years along the Pantaron Range here, NPA’s top-ranked commander “Ambo” and his band of fellow Higaonons terrorized the area. They had AK-47, M653 with grenade launcher, Armalite rifles, and other high-powered firearms.
Armando Daluniag, also known as “Kumander Ambo,” “Dario” or “Satur,” the New People’s Army (NPA) leader who served as commander of Headquarters Force Neo under North Central Mindanao Regional Committee and former deputy secretary of Guerilla Front 89 operating in Bukidnon and nearby provinces, surrendered along with his squad leader Roland Lagunday alias “Ben.”
Born in Cabanbanagan, Guinoyuran, Valencia, Bukidnon of Higaonon tribe, “Ka Ambo” now 60, must have realized it’s time to rest.
A surrender negotiation was then arranged by the Bukidnon TF-ELCAC (Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) skillfully steered by 8th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army Commander Lt. Col. Edgardo Talaroc Jr. whose area is the Pantaron Range.
Daluniag and his six followers were presented to the media Friday at the 403rd Infantry Brigade headquarters. They handed over 10 high-powered firearms composed of three AK47; four M16; one M653 attached with an M203 grenade launcher; one M653, and an M14 rifle.
During the press conference, ‘Ambo’ said he is sure his NPA comrades want him dead now. But he declared that his group is lucky enough to be treated by the government troops as friends.
Asked if they had encountered the military, he said yes, but added he cannot remember how many times except saying he was shot slightly once in a firefight.
Daluniag publicly admitted that hunger pushed him and six others to give up the nonsense armed struggle.
“I rather die with a full stomach in the care of the government than die hungry with the NPA. Also, I expected that as the government’s bitter enemies for 20 long years, the soldiers would harm us. In the CPP-NPA’s charismatic teachings, we were told that the army would torture us once we quit and lay down the arms. But what’s happening now—as we surrender—is the opposite. The Philippine Army welcomed us in open arms and treated us like trusted friends,” he said in dialect.
Daluniag faces some 29 criminal cases but 403rd Brigade Commander BGen. Ferdinand Barandon said ‘Ambo’ will be assisted by the Brigade as justice protocols take its course.
Philippine Army 4th Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Andres Centino further explained that some of the clusters created by TF-ELCAC are tasked to help the surrenderers on criminal charges filed against them.
“TF-ELCAC has created 12 clusters composed of different departments/agencies. Some of those are the E-CLIP/Amnesty Program and Legal Cooperation clusters focusing on the former rebels’ legal problems, including the provision of free legal assistance,” Centino said, pointing out that the legal and individual rights of former rebels must be amply protected.
In a statement, Maj. Gen. Centino said that Daluniag’s surrender is a result of the whole-of-nation approach program. Ambo, while in the mountain knew that former rebels now with the government are happy being free and enjoying bounties of livelihood benefits. That scenario must have attracted him and his followers, the 4ID commander said. (RLRB/PIA Bukidnon)