The rebel returnees surrendered their firearms for which they were given livelihood assistance.
NUEVA ECIJA, Philippines – Nine members of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) surrendered to authorities in Caranglan, Nueva Ecija.
According to Major General Filemon Santos, the Commanding General of the Philippine Army 7th Infantry Division, the rebel returnees decided to surrender after witnessing how well the villagers were being treated by the soldiers.
“We ensured to them and explained to them the differences, at naniwala sila. Hopefully, nakita nila iyon sa sarili nilang buhay na just like us, mahirap mabuhay ng takot ka, nagtatago ka. It’s better to live na open ka. You are doing the right thing,” said Santos.
Among the returnees is Johnny Ildefonso Serante. He had been a member of the NPA for 33 years. He said he could no longer accept the ideologies of the rebel group that’s why he decided to restart a new life.
“Sobrang hirap ng pagtitiis namin. Binulag kami ng maling akala o sistema ng ideolohiyang ipinaglalaban sa kabila. Hindi pala solusyon ang digmaan para maibsan ang kahirapan sa bansang Pilipinas…Dito po pala makakamtan ang tunay na kalayaan. Dito sa ating gobyerno,” said Serante.
The rebel returnees also surrendered their firearms. As recognition for their decommissioning, the government provided them with grocery items and a pair of sheep which they could utilize as the initial source of income. They will also receive a total of P65,000 as stated in the Enhanced Comprehensive Integration Program (ECIP) of the government as financial assistance.
The Philippine Army, meanwhile, vows to ensure their safety in case their former rebel comrades retaliate. – Danny Munar / Marje Pelayo