COTABATO CITY – North Cotabato Gov. Nancy Catamco has assured at least 50 former communist rebels that government will not turn its back on them.
"We already have a government ready to support your needs. Let this program be your legacy for your children and the generations to come,” Catamco told former communist rebels during the program. The government is ready to help you, especially my administration," Catamco said during the 15-day “deradicalization to former rebels” initiative of the Army’s 1002nd Infantry Brigade (Bde) in Kidapawan City on Monday.
Catamco vowed to support the deradicalization initiative, assuring that government intervention will not end after you laid down your guns.
"It will continue to support you until you become productive citizens of our province," she added. "I am willing to support you. I understand you have reasons, but what is important is we understand to whose interest prevails in the insurgency,” she said. “Let us stop fighting each other, we are all Filipinos.”
Meanwhile, Brig. Gen Potenciano Camba, 1002 Brigade commander, said the deradicalization to former rebels program aims to redirect the former rebels’ outlook in life to allow them to fully reform and live normal lives.
Camba urged the ex-NPA members to maintain their stance and decision to live normal lives with their families.
"We need to reset our minds to become productive members of the community. We appreciate Gov. Catamco because of her all-out support to our program,” he said.
Ka Elsa, a former NPA female member, said the program is much suited for them to change for the better.
“We need to change our views in life for the better and get rid of the rebel life for our families. This program is just what we need to do that,” she said in the vernacular after the ceremonies.
Major Ferdinand Mopal, the 1002Bde civil-military operations chief, said the project forms part of the End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) program of the national government.
Under the ELCAC, a national task force (NTF) was formed to ensure the efficient and effective implementation of a "whole-of-nation approach" of the program under Executive Order No. 70 signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in 2018.
The NTF-ELCAC is tasked with carrying out the government’s call for participation in attaining a just, comprehensive, and lasting peace in the country under the rule of law, and convergence efforts in providing a complete package of assistance to former rebels and their families.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)