16 former rebels in Masbate to help gov't end insurgency
By Connie Calipay / Philippine News Agency
LEGAZPI CITY – From being outlaws, 16 members of the communist terrorist group (CTG) who abandoned the armed struggle have pledged allegiance to the government and vowed to help end insurgency.
In a statement on Wednesday, Capt. John Paul Belleza, 9th Infantry Division (9ID) spokesperson, said the new batch of surrenderers was presented to the Aroroy Local Peace Engagement Team headed by Mayor Arturo Virtucio in a ceremony held at the Tico Maristela Sports and Cultural Center of the town.
"Seeing the hopeless and useless cause of the terrorist group that has endangered the lives of innocent civilians including their own families, the said surrenderers composed of three regular NPA (New People's Army) members and 13 Militia ng Bayan (MB) members yielded to the government last July 2," he said.
Belleza said the returnees also brought their firearms, including a KG9 submachine gun which they turned over to the committee during the event.
Afterward, the group took their oath of allegiance to show denouncement of the CTG's terrorism and false ideologies.
Lt. Col. Siegfried Felipe Awichen, commander of the 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB), congratulated the former rebels (FRs) for making the wise decision to withdraw their membership and support from the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), saying it would lead them to a new and more peaceful life.
He said the now considered FRs will receive a complete set of benefits upon finishing the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) process.
They will also avail of various programs from different government agencies on top of the E-CLIP which will grant them financial, livelihood, educational, medical, and housing assistance.
Col. Aldwine Almase, commander of the 903rd Infantry Brigade, underscored that the Army together with the Philippine National Police, will continue its intensified security operations and peace initiatives until Masbate becomes an armed conflict-free province.
"Ang patuloy na tagumpay ng ating kasundaluhan at kapulisan kasama ang iba't ibang ahensya ng ating pamahalaan laban sa terorismo ay lalong magpapaigting ng ating kampanya upang wakasan ang karahasan, tulungan ang mga gustong magbalik-loob sa pamahalaan at tuluyan ng tuldukan ang walang kabuluhang ipinaglalaban ng mga teroristang komunista. (The continuous success of our government troops against terrorism makes us want to do more in our campaign to end violence, help those who want to return to the fold of the law and finally put an end to the senseless ideology of the communist group)," he said.
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Henry Robinson Jr. commander of Joint Task Force Bicolandia (JTFB), lauded the Masbateños for sustaining the momentum in the fight against terrorism.
"These continuous gains in Masbate is not the work of the government alone, we have the Masbateños to be thankful for. Had it not been for their overwhelming support, our campaigns will be futile. To the surrenderers, aside from the E-CLIP Committee, you also have the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) to assist you as you all start anew. Thank you for heeding the call and set as an example to your former comrades and for proving them that even when you were once deceived by the CTG, there's still hope for you," he said.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)