TACLOBAN CITY– Several firearms owned by the members of the communist armed group, the New People’s Army (NPA), were recovered by soldiers in a mountainous village in Mahaplag, Leyte on Thursday.

The cache of firearms was buried by the rebels who have either lied low or now in hiding, said Col. Noel Vestuir, the commanding officer of the 802nd Infantry Brigade based in Ormoc City, Leyte.

Vestuir said that the firearms were recovered by his troops in Barangay Maligaya, a remote village of Mahaplag town on Thursday at about 9:30 am.

He added that some civilians and former rebels who have earlier surrendered reported where these firearms were buried by the rebels.

These firearms consist of an M1 Garand rifle, a 40mm M79 Grenade Launcher, and assorted magazines belonging to the Platoon 1, Sub-Regional Command-LEVOX, Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee, Vestuir said.

The Army official said that the recovery of the firearms due mainly to the information from former rebels is an indication that the communist armed group is no longer ‘welcome’ by the villagers.

“I reiterate my call to the remaining NPAs who are still hiding in the mountains in our area of responsibility to surface and join their families in the mainstream of our society,” Vestuir said.

“You are no longer welcome by the people in the communities since they are already with us in our efforts to end this 54 years of local communist armed conflict. They are now giving us the information on your whereabouts, the locations of your pre-positioned foods in the area and even your arms caches,” he added.

He reminded the still active rebels to surrender and avail programs of the government that provide them benefits like the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program(E-CLIP). (JOEY A. GBIETA/LIZBETH ANN A. ABELLA )