AID FOR EX-REBELS. At least 122 former New People’s Army combatants receive their benefits under the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program during a distribution activity at the Provincial Capitol in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte on Thursday (June 8, 2023). The distribution was facilitated by the provincial government and the Department of the Interior and Local Government 13 (Caraga). (PNA photo by Alexander Lopez)

BUTUAN CITY – Agusan del Norte’s provincial government and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) 13 (Caraga) facilitated the release of the assistance for 122 former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels here Thursday.

Governor Maria Angelica Rosedell Amante, together with DILG-13 Assistant Director Donald Seronay and Director Elsa Evangelista-Lapiña of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, led the distribution of assistance under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) of the government.

Of the 122 ECLIP beneficiaries, 72 were regular members of the NPA while 50 were members of the Milisya ng Bayan who surrendered on different occasions from 2021 until 2022.

The former rebels also handed over 39 high-powered firearms, all of which were remunerated during the assistance distribution.

A total of PHP12 million in cash aid were released to the former rebels in the form of livelihood assistance, immediate assistance, and firearms remuneration.

“I am glad that you decided to abandon the communist movement and return to the fold of the law. We are all Filipinos, and we do not need to fight,” Amante said in her message.

She added that there is no reason to fight and offer one’s life for a useless cause being carried out by the communist rebels.

“I pity those who died in battles where their comrades and leaders just abandoned their dead bodies. There is no justice in what they are doing,” Amante said.

Among the former rebels who received the assistance was alias Patrick, the former secretary of the dismantled Guerrilla Front 4-A under the NPA's North Central Mindanao Regional Committee.

Patrick, a resident of Buenavista, Agusan del Norte, said he joined the NPA movement in 2011 until his surrender to the 23rd Infantry Battalion (23IB) in September 2021.


“I got married when I was inside the movement. My wife was part of a team that educates the masses about the communist movement,” he said.

As his family grew with the addition of a child, he realized the hardships they endured as the 23IB intensified its focused military operations in Agusan del Norte and parts of Misamis Oriental.

“I was thinking of the future of my family, especially my child. As we ran away from the pursuing government troops, coupled with exhaustion and hunger, I realized it is time for me and my wife to quit,” Patrick said in the vernacular.

During the distribution activity, the former rebel received PHP65,000 for livelihood assistance and a separate amount for the firearms he surrendered to the government.

Patrick said he would use the money he received to further develop his banana farm in their community.

“I already had a training given by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and the Department of Agriculture on land preparation and banana production,” he added. (PNA)