SAN JOSE DE BUENAVISTA, Antique – Some 19 former rebels in the province received their assistance under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) in a simple ceremony here on Tuesday.
The former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines- New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) each received PHP21,000 in reintegration and PHP15,000 livelihood assistance from Governor Rhodora Cadiao and Interior and Local Government provincial director Cherryl Tacda.
In an interview, one of the beneficiaries, alias "Reynato", said he was only 16 years old when he joined the terror group.
“As I was tending our carabao in our hinterland barangay in Pandan, there were NPA-CPP members who used to ask me to do some errands for them,” he said.
The rebels, he added, used to ask him to buy them slippers or whatever needs that they have from their town proper and that he would obey out of fear.
He later joined the group full-time thinking that it would solve their family’s poverty.
“When I joined the rebel group, I was assigned as a member of the Fighting Guerrilla Unit (FGU) in Aklan and Antique provinces,” he said and took part in an encounter with the government military troop in Ibajay, Aklan years ago, although he could not recall the exact date.
He was also involved in the education and recruitment of their new members.
He got tired of hiding in the mountains and decided to return to the government on August 5, 2019.
“I encourage those others still with the NPA-CPP to already surrender and avail the government program,” he said.
Cadiao, in her message, hoped that the surrenderers will use wisely their reintegration assistance.
“You may put up small sari-sari stores, go into rice trading, or on whatever income generation projects you would like to have,” she said.
The amount the surrenderers received from the national government could already help them rebuild their lives, she added.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)