From the Visayan Daily Star (Mar 10): More NPA men surrender
Six more self-confessed members of the New People’s Army, including four in Negros, surrendered to infantry units of the 3rd Infantry Division in Negros and Panay, within the first two months of this year.
This brought to 50 the number of NPA members who had abandoned the armed struggle in Nergros and Panay since last year, Maj. Rey Tiongson, 3ID spokesman, yesterday said.
On March 6, a certain Sonny Boy Senda, alias Ka Raymund, who confessed being a member of Squad 3, Sentro De Grabidad platoon of the South East Front, surrendered to the 79th Infantry Battalion in Siaton, Negros Oriental, military records show.
Two days after, 79IB troopers and about 15 NPA members figured in about 15 minutes of running gunbattle in Brgy. Bahi-an, Tanjay City, Negros Oriental.
Tiongson said an M16 armalite rifle with two magazines of ammunition, a back pack containing personal belongings and subversive documents, believed left behind by fleeing rebels, were recovered at the encounter site.
He said the return of several NPA members to mainstream society and abandonment of their 44 camps last years are indications of the waning revolutionary organization in the region.
Of the 44 NPA camps discovered by government troopers, Tiongson said 24 are in Negros and 20 in Panay.
During the service presentation ceremony held at the grounds of the Bangsamoro Leadership & Management Institute (BLMI) on March 4, Iqbal described the Sajahatra as the product of the mutual trust enjoyed by both parties which took “too long, to be exact 17 years.”
Hence, he emphasized, that “it is but morally upright and for every practical reason that we value and nurture this partnership between the government and the MILF.”
Iqbal characterized the Sajahatra program as “President Aquino’s concrete, socio-economic initiative aimed to uplift the health, education and livelihood conditions of MILF communities.”
“The MILF agreed to this project with the firm belief that this project is in support of the peace process and not in any way similar to the previous government initiatives which were solely counter-insurgency measures,” Iqbal told the crowd made up mostly of MILF beneficiaries and concerned government agencies.
He went on to declare that Sajahatra Bangsamoro is “not the kind of thing that we dreaded before.”
Iqbal was joined by his counterpart GPH Chief Peace Negotiator Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and MILF Central Committee Secretary Muhammad Ameen who welcomed everybody to the sprawling compound of BLMI, just few kilometers away from the heart of the MILF’s Camp Darapanan.
Health, education and livelihood
Sajahatra was launched on February 11, 2013 by no less than President Aquino and MILF Chairman Al haj Murad Ebrahim in the same venue. Its Term of Reference was signed exactly two months thereafter.
The program aims to uplift the health, education and livelihood conditions of priority Bangsamoro communities and targeted individual beneficiaries through quick-gestation, high-impact and social protection-type projects.
As of February 2014, PhilHealth insurance cards were already distributed to 1,689 beneficiaries who can use it for emergency cases. 639 students are enrolled as scholars in various state colleges and universities. Dep-Ed is processing funds for 30 madaris for various educational purposes.