BAPTISM. Ten former members of the communist New People's Army (NPA) in Davao Oriental decide to restore their Christian faith through baptism on July 18, 2022. On the same day, they also graduated from the government's Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program. (Photo courtesy of Davao Oriental PIO)

DAVAO CITY – Ten former communist New People's Army (NPA) rebels decided to restore their Christian faith through baptism and vowed to abandon the communist ideology.

In an interview Thursday, Davao Oriental information officer Karen Lou Deloso said the rebels were baptized by a team of volunteers from the Lighthouse Church on July 18, the same day they graduated on July 18 from the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

A surrenderer only known as "Red", 29, said he was thankful for being allowed to change as he vowed not to waste such a “rare opportunity” for them.

“We are grateful for being taught about goodness and transformation. The hatred and grudges in our hearts are now gone, and I am truly thankful I have changed,” he said.

"Dodong", another surrenderer who used to work in the “white areas“ of the communist movement, urged his former comrades to “genuinely transform and embrace the life of peace.”

Deloso said the former rebels are also thankful for the Happy Home, the provincial government-run halfway house and processing center for former rebels, which was conceptualized and initiated by Governor Corazon Malanyaon in 2013.

“They said that if it weren’t for the Happy Home, they would not have gone through spiritual processing because it’s different from the ideology they were taught in the communist movement,” she said.

Since then, services and facilities have evolved and become the E-CLIP implementation model in the country.

Currently, Deloso said hundreds of former rebels are "living their best lives" after receiving scores of benefits from Happy Home, including financial assistance, educational services, livelihood assistance, skills training, housing, spiritual services, and moral recovery activities. (PNA)