OPAPRU backs move to expedite cases of ex-rebels in Agusan Norte

By Alexander Lopez

September 26, 2023, 12:50 pm

BUTUAN CITY – The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU) in Eastern Mindanao is backing the move of Agusan del Norte Gov. Maria Angelica Rosedell Amante to speed up the cases of former rebels (FRs).

In a statement on Monday afternoon, OPAPRU Eastern Mindanao Director Elisa Evangelista-Lapiña said the move seeks to entice the remaining New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in the province to lay down their arms and surrender.

“The remaining armed combatants are apprehensive about returning to the folds of the law due to their pending court cases,” Lapiña said.

OPAPRU data showed that as of Sept. 25, around 122 FRs in Agusan del Norte have pending cases in courts.

“To achieve our goal, there is a need to strengthen the coordination between the other government agencies, such as the Public Attorney’s Office, the Provincial Government of Agusan del Norte, and volunteer legal partners that would actively monitor the progress of cases of FRs,” Lapiña said.

Ka Adel and Ka Rosa are among the ex-NPA insurgents who were thankful for the move.

Adel, who is facing murder and frustrated murder, yielded late last year and is now processing his benefits from the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

Meanwhile, Rosa, who surrendered January 5 this year, is facing attempted murder cases.

“The move to help us fast-track the resolution of our cases is a relief. The cases we face are among the burdens we continue to carry as we recover to reintegrate into our communities,” Rosa said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

The resolution of cases, she said, will also help FRs start anew and become productive members of their communities.

Last week, the provincial government and the OPAPRU opened here the Kagawasan 143 Peace Center in Barangay Bancasi.

The peace center, touted as the first-ever in the country, aims to build bridges of understanding and support for FRs who have chosen the path of peace and reconciliation.

The center will also provide FRs with the necessary resources and opportunities to reintegrate into society. (PNA)