Monday, December 16, 2019

19 NPAs yield to gov’t authorities in S. Cotabato

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 16, 2019): 19 NPAs yield to gov’t authorities in S. Cotabato (By Danilo E. Doguiles)

19 rebel returnees were presented to South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo S. Tamayo Jr., at the provincial capitol on Friday, December 13. 

KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato, Dec. 16 (PIA) — An opportunity to quit a difficult and dangerous life in the revolutionary movement and the promise of a government delivering basic services to the needy sector have prompted 19 members of New Peoples’ Army (NPA) to return to the fold of law.

Alias Edgar, formerly a vice commander of a platoon under the communist rebel’s Far South Mindanao Regional Committee, along with 18 NPAs operating in South Cotabato, North Cotabato, and Sarangani surrendered to the South Cotabato Police Provincial Office (SCPPO) and the Regional Intelligence Unit (RIU) earlier last week and were presented to South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. at the provincial capitol on Friday.

In an interview, Edgar said he and his teammates surrendered because they can no longer bear the hardship they had experienced fighting for the revolutionary movement.

“Di na namin kayang makipag-away sa kapwa namin Pilipino,” Edgar said. (We can no longer fights against fellow Filipinos)

He recounted that in his three years with the communist group, his team had three encounters with the government troops, including a clash with the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

“Ang mahirap isang buwan kaming halos walang nakakain dahil tinutugis kami ng 27th IB,” he said. (What’s difficult was for a month we hardly had food because we were being pursued by troops of the 27th IB.)

One of the rebel returnees presented an M16 armalite to South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr., on Friday. The rifle is one of the 8 firearms that the former rebels yielded to authorities. 

Meanhile, Alias John Mark, who was an NPA platoon vice commander operating in North Cotabato, said he and his fellow members were encouraged to surrender because they have witnessed what the government has been doing to address what they fought for.

“Nagpasalamat mi nga may serbisyo na nga nagaabot sa pareha namong mga lumad sama sa eskwelahan ug dalan. Nagahatag pud sila ug pangabuhian,” John Mark told Philippine Information Agency in an interview. (We are grateful that government services such as schools and roads have already reached lumads like us. They are also giving livelihood.)

Among the surrenderers presented to South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. at the provincial capitol on Friday were squad leaders, platoon vice commanders, political organizers, and militia ng bayan. Three of them are women.

Seven were members of the NPA Guerilla Front 73 and 1 from the Guerilla Front 56 of the Far South Mindanao Regional Committee operating in South Cotabato and Sarangani and 11 from Guerilla Front 53 of South Mindanao Regional Committee operating in North Cotabato and Davao del Sur, accoring to Police Colonel Jimuel Siason, director of the South Cotabato Police Provincial Office.

Upon surrender, the rebels also yielded 8 firearms, including two homemade .38 pistols, two homemade shotguns, a homemade .22 pistol, a fragmentation grenade, a Carbine rifle, and an M16 armalite.

Col. Siason said the rebel returnees were fetched by troops of the South Cotabato Police Provincial Office (SCPPO) and the Regional Intelligence Unit (RIU) on December 10 and 12, after a series of negotiations.

More are expected to surrender this week, both Siason and Governor Tamayo disclosed.

Since July, 55 NPAs have surrendered to the SCPPO and the RIU and presented to Gov. Tamayo.

Awaiting documentation and intervention with concerned government entities, the former rebels are temporarily cared for by the South Cotabato Police Provincial Office.

At the ceremony, Gov. Tamayo lauded the former NPAs for trusting the provincial government and vowed that, along with other government agencies, will expedite the assistance to rebel returnees under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

Under the E-CLIP, a former rebel is assured of safety and security guarantees by the law enforcement agencies; support for relocation for the FR and his or her immediate family; immediate assistance of P15,000 for mobilization expenses while being enrolled to the program; livelihood assistance of P50,000; reintegration assistance of P21,000 to defray subsistence while in custody of the receiving unit and other incidental expenses such as securing birth certificate, identification card, and others; and firearm remuneration.

An FR will also be enrolled in PhilHealth and may avail of services of other government agencies such as housing from the National Housing Authority, skills training from Technical Education and Skills Development, livelihood assistance from the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Trade and Industry, scholarship from the Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education and many others.

Tamayo urged the surrenders to encourage their former comrades to return to the fold of law, assuring them that the government is already addressing their concerns such as lack of basic services.

“Tell them there is no reason for them to revolt against the government. The government in now open to listen to your complains,” Tamayo told the former rebels. (DED/PIA XII)

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