Former rebels turned ally of the government will be utilized to convince their former comrades to turn their back from the communist terrorist group (CTG) and embrace the opportunity that awaits them.
Maj. Cenon Pancito III, chief of the Division Public Affairs (DPAO) of the 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) of the Philippine Army, said 13 former rebels completed the speakers’ team training for the deradicalization program held at the Camp General Macario B. Peralta Jr. in Jamindan, Capiz from Sept. 22 to Oct. 2.
“This is actually an effort for the 3rd Infantry Division to come up with a good source of speakers, a good source of cadres. We know that the main weapon of the NPA (New People’s Army) is very good speakers, very-well learned cadres who can really speak,” he said in a phone interview with Philippine News Agency.
Out of the many former rebels, they picked those with high educational attainment and those with potential to become good speakers or already speakers when they were with the movement.
Five from Panay island and eight from Negros island who voluntarily surrendered underwent the “deradicalization” program that was held with the support of People’s Advocacy for Collaboration and Empowerment (PeACE), an organization of former rebels.
They were taught about the fundamentals of public speaking as they would be deployed to assist the government in its peace and development initiatives.
Equipped with training, they will be sent to counter those who are still organizing and recruiting for the armed movement, he said.
“We believe that former rebels are in authority to speak aside from the Philippine Army. We talked to them and told them that the government is needing their help and we are glad that they are with us in our campaign against insurgency,” Pancito said.
He added they “are counting on them” because being former rebels, they knew how the movement works.
“This is a non-traditional tool that will effectively deliver our desire to really put an end into this insurgency,” he said, citing the need to connect with the people even if combat operations have been doing good in reducing “significantly the number of NPA”.
He added the first batch is just a test case and their effectiveness will have to be evaluated.
“If we know that this is the best weapon that we have, and this is the best tool that we have, then we will replicate the training in the future,” he said.
After their training, they were deployed back to Philippine Army units handling Panay and Negros.
Two other former rebels from Bohol also joined the training virtually.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (Perla Lena, PNA)