70 NPA rebels lured out of armed struggle

By Perla Lena / Philippine News Agency

CONFISCATED. Some of the firearms and explosive materials confiscated by the Philippine Army in anti-insurgency operations are shown in this March 2021 photo. On Monday (May 24, 2021), the Army will present the 70 former rebels convinced to surrender to Iloilo officials. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army Facebook)

ILOILO CITY – The three-month engagement of community support program (CSP) teams in four municipalities of southern Iloilo have convinced 70 New People's Army rebels to return to the government fold.


The 70 surrendered, who belong to the NPA's Militia ng Bayan, will be presented to Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. on May 24, as well as to the mayors of Leon, Tubungan, Miagao, and San Joaquin towns where they are from.


They will also surrender assorted long and short firearms.


“They are the eyes and ears in the barangays. They are the ones laying mines and part of those who conduct ambush. They were the ones giving information to the active or regular NPA whenever the Army or police enter their area,” Col. Joel Benedict Batara, commanding officer of the 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB) of the Philippine Army, told the Philippine News Agency in a phone interview on Friday.


Since CSP teams were deployed to their areas on the first week of February this year, the surrenderers were gradually convinced to give up arms.


“This is the effort of the community support program teams. They talked to them through dialogues during the immersion,” he added.


Batara said at first, there was propaganda information against the CSP teams, such as harassment of locals and destruction of their farms. But the CSP teams did not give up until they fulfilled their mission.


“During the presentation, they will be receiving PHP5,000 assistance from the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) and they will also be given food packs,” Batara said.


They will undergo validation for enrolment with the enhanced comprehensive local integration program (E-Clip), for which they will be entitled to receive PHP15,000 for the firearms they will surrender


Local government units will provide other interventions such as psychological debriefing while services from other concerned government agencies are also available.


E-Clip is a complete assistance package for former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) who are open to becoming productive members of society again.


The CPP-NPA is also listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)

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