FORMER REBELS. The 21 former communist New People’s Army rebels pose for a photo with the Davao del Sur provincial government and Armed Forces of the Philippines officials on Monday (March 20, 2023) after the turnover of the PHP1.2 million from the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program in Digos City, Davao del Sur. Nineteen of the ex-rebels received PHP65,000 livelihood assistance each, while two others qualified for PHP15,000 immediate assistance each. (Photo courtesy of 39IB)

DAVAO CITY – At least 21 former New People's Army (NPA) rebels have received over PHP1.2 million worth of assistance under the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program in Davao del Sur province on Monday.

Lt. Col. Ezra Balagtey, the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion commander, said 19 ex-rebels received PHP65,000 livelihood assistance each, while two only qualified for the PHP15,000 immediate assistance during the distribution activity at the provincial coliseum in Digos City.

"We are thankful for the continuing effort of our partner agencies and the provincial government of Davao Del Sur to mainstream these former rebels," Balagtey said in an interview Monday.

The turnover was facilitated by the Davao Del Sur's Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

Before receiving the assistance, the 19 beneficiaries underwent additional orientation from the training they had during the three-month Tupad Pangako Program, a deradicalization intervention for their reintegration into mainstream society.

“Jane”, a former medical officer of the communist New People’s Army Guerilla Front 51 - Southern Mindanao Regional Committee, thanked the government for the help given to former rebels like her as she transitions into a normal life with her family.

“This will be of great help for us to restart our lives and become responsible citizens of this country. I know that the process will be hard, but with the help of the government," she said. (PNA)