Eleven former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Eastern Visayas have surrendered to policemen driven by their desire to start a new life.
Among them is “Walik,” 26, who was recruited and convinced by NPA to join their armed-cause in Samar province when he was a minor 10 years ago.
It was a nightmare for his mother knowing that one of her 10 children joined the communist terrorist group.
“His father was very worried when we learned that one of our sons joined the NPA. He said our son has no future in there. We searched for him to convince him to return home,” said Walik’s mother, who refused to be named.
She said her son’s decision to yield to authorities is an answer to her prayers.
The young former rebel said the promise of fighting for a better life persuaded him to join the group.
“When I joined, I just suffered homesickness and fear. My life in the communist group was very hard prompting me to escape from our camp, carrying nothing,” Walik told reporters.
He said he wanted to continue his studies just like his other siblings who are now in college and high school.
“I want (to) take the Alternative Learning System and earn a college degree to fulfill my father’s wish for me to become a soldier,” Walik said.
The difficult life in the mountains, moving from one place to another, and uncertainty for her family’s life were also the reasons why Eunice, 32, abandoned the armed struggle.
She was pregnant when she and her husband decided to leave the communist group and live a normal life in her hometown in Samar this year.
“My family is very thankful to the government for the assistance that we have been receiving from them,” Eunice said.
Edil from Eastern Samar said that due to lack of education, many residents in upland communities like him are easily convinced to join the communist terrorist group.
“But when I was already in the group, I noticed that the ideology that they have taught us is wrong because they also victimize the innocent civilian. They are more on lip service, none of their promises came into reality,” he said.
They are among the 11 NPA members who recently surrendered to the provincial mobile force company, municipal police stations, and to the regional mobile force battalion retooled community support program (RCSP) teams are from the provinces of Leyte, Samar, and Eastern Samar.
They also surrendered several firearms and ammunition to the government forces.
“This is a defining moment for all of us as we just recently launched the RCSP in Samar province that is designed to become an important component in our fight against insurgency,” said Philippine National Police (PNP) Eastern Visayas Regional Director, Brig. Gen. Bernabe Balba, during the presentation of former rebels at the PNP regional office in Tacloban City on July 23, 2020.
“Just a week after its launching, significant accomplishment has been marked that connotes a positive impact to the community in attaining peace and development. I am very much delighted to note that I am positive enough that this prolonged adversity will now be addressed,” he added.
The former rebels who are now in the custody of government forces will undergo debriefing, and documentation and joint validation between the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines if they are facing criminal charges.
Their names will also be endorsed to avail of the government’s assistance program for rebel returnees under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-Clip) through the Department of Interior and Local Government.
E-Clip recipients are entitled to PHP50,000 worth of livelihood kits, PHP21,000 integration assistance, PHP15,000 financial aid. These are on top of the monetary value of firearms they will turn in to authorities.
They will also be trained by the Technical Education Skills Development Authority for competency and housing programs.
Balba added that the government will not stop in assisting the surrenderers, but will also continue to monitor them during their integration in the community to find out their sincerity in returning to the folds of the law. (Roel Amazona, PNA)