From Panay News (May 15, 2020): Another rebel surrenders, seeks to live peaceful life (By Ruby Silubrico)
Another member of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered to the Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB) in Miag-ao, Iloilo.
The 35-year-old Botoy (not his real name) was a resident Tubungan town and member of the Sibat Platoon, Southern Front, Komiteng Rehiyon-Panay of the NPA.
“Botoy’s longing for a normal life with his family gave him the courage to abandon the armed struggle,” according to Lieutenant Colonel Joel Benedict Batara, commanding officer of the 61IB.
Tubungan’s Mayor Roquito Tacsagon helped in Botoy’s surrender.
Batara commended Botoy for his bravery and determination to have a peaceful life.
“We warmly welcome him. He is a victim of the rebels’’ propaganda and deception,” he said.
Batara promised to assist in Botoy’s enrollment to the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) where the latter could avail himself of assistance from the local government unit of Tubungan through the integration program dubbed “Project ROKIT”.
The 61IB appealed to other rebels to follow Botoy’s example.
“With the support of local government units we will continue to encourage the remaining rebels to lay down their arms and give peace a chance,” said Batara.
Early this May, a 20-year-old lad surrendered to the 61IB. He said he was an NPA member and was present in the rebel group’s April encounter with government troops in Miag-ao.
The young man was a resident of Miag-ao and was accompanied by his mother and barangay officials during the surrender.
“He joined the rebels in February this year. He was fetching water when armed men approached him and offered an education scholarship if he went with them,” said Batara.
The young man accepted the offer thinking he would be able to continue his studies.
“But he and other recruits were surprised to be handed out guns for tactical offensives against government troops,” said Batara.
The young man told the Army he participated in the NPA’s attack on government forces in Sitio Anoy, Barangay Cabalaunan, Miag-ao on April 18.
“He was assigned as a perimeter security. But when he had the chance, he escaped from the group, leaving behind his firearm. He went home straight,” said Batara.