Bancasi, Butuan City – The Mandag family in Agusan del Norte was happily reunited when their parents who are CPP-NPA Terrorist (CNT) members together with other siblings surrendered to the Community Support Team (CST) of 29th Infantry (Matatag) Battalion under the 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade on January 16, 2020 at Brgy San Antonio, Remedios T Romualdez, Agusan del Norte.

Bringing along with them one (1) M16 rifle with one (1) magazine and medical equipment, seven (7) out of the nine (9) members of the Mandag family to include three (3) minors surrendered to the CSP team of 29IB after a month of negotiations. They were identified as Rommel E Mandag alias Yeni, 39 yrs old; Roberto E Mandag alias Vic, 43 yrs old; and Liza M Mandag alias Rina, 40 yrs old, all members of Squad “Bobee”-3, Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda (SYP) 21C, Guerilla Front (GF) 21 of the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC) together with Penilin B Mandag, 33 yrs old and minors: Marco, 12 yrs old; Marlon, 14 yrs old and Roy, 12 yrs old (not their true name) who were CNT mass supporters and couriers.

The NPA destroyed the Mandag family when it recruited its members separately. Three (3) members of the family to include the father and mother, Roberto and Liza, became regular NPA members leaving their children for almost two (2) years yielding to the false promises of the NPA that they will give support to their family. Their children were left behind with only their aunt taking care of them who were in turn became as CNT couriers.

During the interview with Liza, she revealed that she was forced to follow suit and join the NPA in order to encourage his husband to return to their family as she is unable to raise their children alone. Sadly, it took her more than six (6) months of misery and sacrifice as she left her children to survive on their own. The emotionally filled reunion of the whole Mandag family happened after Roberto and Liza’s two (2) children, CNT Underground Movement Organization (UGMO) members, identified as Ricky Mandag, 18 yrs old and Lina (not her true name), 14 yrs old, who earlier surrendered to government troops last September 14, 2019 pleaded to their parents to stop supporting the NPA and surrender so that they will be together again.

“Kami sa akong manghud miundang sa pagsuporta sa kalihukan kay nalamdagan kami sa unsa ang tinood nga tumong sa NPA. Busa amo gyud gihangyo ang amo ginikanan og uban nga kaparentehan nga musurender na pud kay daghan plano og programa ang gobyerno alang sa mga sama namo nga kabos. Kini sukwahi sa mga gilinya nga propaganda sa amo sa mga NPA”. Ricky and her sister Lina are now active members of the Youth Leadership Summit (YLS), a group of youth volunteers who advocate and act as conduit of peace and development in their locality.

According to Roberto, who was teary eyed during the initial interview, they were attracted to support and join the NPA because of poverty. They were made to believe that their lives will be better by joining the NPA. He further said that because of the brainwashing and false promises given to them by the CNTs, their family was destroyed and their lives even became more difficult. “Lisod kaayo nga magbulag bulag ang pamilya. Tungod aning pagsulod og pagsuporta namo sa NPA, nabiyaan namo ang amo mga anak. Naghulat mig higayon nga makalinya sa tropa arun makasurender. Nangayo kog pasaylo sa akong mga anak sa mga tuig nga nasayang og napasagdan nako sila. Pasalamat mig dako nga sa among mga duha ka anak nga nauna nga mitahan sa tropa ug nag-giya kanamo nga mubalik sa sabakan sa balaod og mamuhig normal og hapsay kauban ang matag myembro sa among pamilya”.

Meanwhile, Brigadier General Maurito L Licudine, Commander of the 402nd Brigade in his statement said, “We congratulate the Mandag family for heeding the call to surrender and finally be reunited with their children and other relatives. They can now start rebuilding their family and rest assured that your Army and the Local Government Unit will hand in hand help them to start their life anew. “This is the strategy of the CPP-NPA-NDF, disintegrate the basic unit of our society, the family, and establish a different sector such as youth sector for the children, women’s sector for the mothers and fisher folks/farmer sector for the fathers in order to advance their self-vested interest to conduct propaganda and recruit members as NPA fighters”.

“We call on to all families to be alert and on guard on the CNT recruitment strategy using issues not to solve the problem but only to agitate and eventually recruit prospected members. Let us deny the NPAs from destroying the basic fiber of our society, the family. Let’s decry the CNTs lies and deceit and call out, HANDS OFF OUR FAMILIES!”, Brigadier General Licudine added.