BACOLOD CITY – Unfulfilled promises and hunger while on the run led 12 Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) rebels, including a ranking front official, to surrender to government forces in northern Negros Occidental in recent months.
The surrenderers, who belonged to the Northern Negros Front (NNF), were from the cities of Escalante, Sagay, and San Carlos and the municipalities of Toboso and Calatrava.
“This event is a milestone. It marks a step towards achieving lasting peace and stability in northern Negros,” said Lt. Col. Arnel Calaoagan, commander of the Philippine Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion (IB).
Calaoagan, together with local officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP), presented the surrenderers to Brig. Gen. Orlando Edralin, commander of 303rd Infantry Brigade, and representatives of concerned local government units (LGUs) in rites held at the battalion headquarters in Sagay City on Friday.
They took their oaths of allegiance to the Philippine government before Escalante City legal officer Charo-Tupas Fajardo.
The former rebels, who also turned over several firearms with ammunition, received cash assistance and sacks of rice from their respective LGUs, 79IB, PNP Special Action Force and Negros Occidental Provincial Mobile Force Company.
Capt. Dan Carlo Samoza, civil-military operations officer of 79IB, said the former rebels are now in their custody while processing documents for their benefits under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP).
ECLIP provides a financial package for immediate assistance, provision of the reintegration process, starting capital for livelihood, and remunerating surrendered firearms.
Samoza said among those who surrendered were the secretary and squad leaders of the dismantled NNF, whose ages range from early 20s to 40s.
Some stayed in the armed struggle for about a year, while others were communist rebels for over five years.
“This is a result of the massive campaign operation of the 79IB together with the PNP to encourage them to surrender. There were promises made by the CPP-NPA that were never fulfilled. They also experienced hunger. They also realized they lost so much time to be with their families,” Samoza said. (PNA)