Young ex-rebel in Samar shares armed struggle ordeal
By Sarwell Meniano / Philippine News Agency
BASEY, Samar – Broken promises, difficulty of living in the mountains in Samar, and being on the run from government forces for six years prompted Dominador Cabab, 28, to completely sever ties with the New People’s Army (NPA).
The news about the assistance being given by the national government to the rebels who turned their backs on the atrocities of the terror group, solidify his wishes to fulfill his longing to return to his normal life.
“I heard over the radio that the government has good programs for former rebels. That encouraged me to contact the military. When I entered their camp, the soldiers treated me well, contrary to what the NPA inculcated to my mind about government forces,” he told the Philippine News Agency on Thursday.
Being a Grade 3 completer and raised by a farmer couple, Cabab was easily persuaded by armed men to join the communist terrorist group in Samar province.
“They promised me that I would be able to finish college and own land, but those are all lies. It was six grueling years of my life,” he said.
“I did a lot of tasks as an NPA member from carrying firearms and supplies, to extorting food from locals. It was a waste of time. For several months, I have planned on how to escape until I got a rare opportunity to return to my family," he added,
He recalled how hard it was to spend a day without anything to eat and spend a night anywhere in the forest.
Cabab formally surrendered to the Philippine Army’s 63rd Infantry Battalion (IB) on April 4, 2021, just two weeks after he managed to escape from the company of about 18 armed comrades.
He is now temporarily employed as an errand person and gardener inside the military camp set up in their village in Guirang.
The military is currently processing his application for the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP.
The E-CLIP gives former rebels a holistic package of benefits, such as livelihood, medical, education, housing, and even legal assistance.
Cabab is just one of the over 200 NPA fighters, militiamen, community organizers, and staunch supporters in Basey town who have surrendered to authorities since 2019, according to 63rd IB commander Lt. Col. Edgar Allan Orbito.
“Their surrender really crippled the communist terrorist group. From 40 fighters, the number was reduced to only seven last year. They were forced to move to the northern part of Eastern Samar since they have already lost support from villagers,” Orbito said.
The battalion set up its headquarters in Guirang village here in August 2019, with the mission to dismantle the NPA operating in the towns of Basey, Marabut, and some parts of Eastern Samar.
The Communist Party of the Philippines - NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
Since 2016, the central government and local government units have intensified the fight against the NPA by forming task forces to end local communist armed conflict.
The formation of the task force operationalizes Executive Order 70 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte on Dec. 4, 2018. The directive also institutionalizes a “whole-of-nation approach” in attaining an inclusive and sustainable peace. (PNA)