Saturday, April 11, 2020

Surigao Sur town gives aid to 10 former rebels

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 11, 2020): Surigao Sur town gives aid to 10 former rebels (By Alexander Lopez)

AID TO FORMER REBELS. San Miguel Mayor Hazel Elizalde (sitting, center) and Capt. Julius James Gabaran, (sitting, front) commander of the 7th Special Forces Company of the Army's 3rd Special Forces Battalion, lead the distribution of cash aid to 10 former rebels on Thursday (April 9) at the town hall of San Miguel. The officials call on the remaining to embrace peace and leave the communist rebel movement. (Photo courtesy of the Army's 3rd Special Forces Battalion)

Ten former communist insurgents who surrendered to the Army's 3rd Special Forces Battalion (3SFBn) were given financial assistance by the local government unit (LGU) of San Miguel, Surigao del Sur.

In a statement on Friday, 1Lt. Krisjuper Andreo Punsalan, 3SFBn civil-military operations officer, said each of the 10 former New People’s Army (NPA) rebel received PHP10,000 during a turnover ceremony on Thursday in San Miguel.

The distribution was led by San Miguel Mayor Hazel Elizalde together with Capt. Julius James Gabaran, the commanding officer of the Army's 7th Special Forces Company of 3SFBn.

“The FRs belonged to the weakened Guerilla Front 19 (GF-19) of the NPA. They surrendered to the special forces of the Army on different occasions since last year until March of this year,” Punsalan said.

Hunger, corruption of leaders, violence and the ruthless killings by the NPA of civilians had driven the surrenderers to flee from the communist rebel movement, the Army official said.

In the statement, Elizalde hopes the financial aid would help the former rebels return to the mainstream society and live peacefully with the respective families.

She said the assistance would also help the recipients cope with the impacts of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Surigao del Sur to contain the spread of 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

“Do not put to waste the government support you received, use the financial aid to sustain the needs of your families, especially your children. This cash aid from the LGU will greatly help your family in this time of crisis where employment and economic activity is severely affected due to regional lockdowns and enhanced quarantine control measures to prevent the spread of the virus,” Elizalde said.

Lt. Col. Joey Baybayan, 3SFBn commander, lauded the support extended by the San Miguel LGU to the former rebels.

Baybayan said the assistance would encourage more NPA rebels to follow suit and "choose the path of peace."

He also noted that the province of Surigao del Sur and the municipality of San Miguel have already declared the NPA as persona non grata as early as last year.

“The declaration of persona non-grata greatly affected the CNTs (Communist NPA Terrorists) as many informants pointed the whereabouts of CNT personalities who fell behind bars through the law enforcement operations of the Army and the Philippine National Police (PNP),” the Army official said.

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