81 former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels from eleven municipalities and a city in Zamboanga del Sur received food and cash assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) with the help of the Philippine Army’s 53rd Infantry (MATAPAT) Battalion (53IB), 1st Infantry (TABAK) Division (1ID).
Soldiers from 53IB and a team from DSWD distributed food packs containing 12 kilos of rice, canned goods, and coffee to 81 former rebels currently residing in the municipalities of Dimataling, Dinas, San Miguel, Guipos, Lakewood, Bayog, Kumalarang, Tigbao, Midsalip, and Dumingag and in Barangay Lisson Valley of Pagadian City.
In coordination and with the assistance of 44th Infantry (Agile N’ Stable) Battalion, 1st Infantry (TABAK) Division, Philippine Army, which has operational jurisdiction over the Municipality of Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur, four former rebels who surrendered to 44IB and are currently living in the said municipality also received food packs from DSWD.
“We hope that these food packs will be of great help to our Former Rebels especially in this time of crisis,” DSWD team leader Rebecca Guillermo said.
Aside from the food packs, the former rebels, who are not 4Ps recipients also received P5,000 cash assistance under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).
Those who did not yet receive Social Amelioration cash aid filled-up the SAP Form and registered for the second tranche of SAP to be distributed this May.
In addition to what the DSWD provided, the mayors, as Chairpersons of Municipal Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (MTF-ELCAC) in their respective municipalities, also gave additional sacks of rice, canned goods, cash assistance, and job orders.
Zamboanga del Sur Gov. Victor Yu, Chairperson of the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC), encouraged the former comrades of the formal NPA rebels to lay down their arms, return to the folds of law, and start their lives anew.
“Our government is always open for our NPA brothers and sisters. We have various programs from different agencies like the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Agriculture (DA), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for those who will surrender,” Gov. Yu said.
“We have incentives and programs such as E-CLIP, so they can all start their lives anew and be with their families,” Yu said.
Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, 53IB Commanding Officer, said: “In continuous collaboration with the different LGUs and LGAs, we strive to give premium to our former rebels as they are the living embodiment that it is not yet too late to lay down their arms, surrender, be with their families and loved ones, and have a better life and a future.”
The former rebels are very thankful to the DSWD, the AFP, and the provincial government as a whole hope that more NPAs will surrender and avail of these programs by the government, Gov. Yu said.
The province of Zamboanga Del Sur is currently under General Community Quarantine (GCQ).