The hardships in the armed struggle have forced a former leader of the militant urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) and her members to go back to the folds of the law.
Lolita de Jesus, former president of Kadamay-Villa Luis resettlement site in Barangay Siling Bata, Pandi, Bulacan said she could no longer bear the hunger and fatigue she experienced while with the insurgents.
“What I had experienced in the mountains was no joke. At kaya ako nagbalik-loob sa gobyerno upang maituwid ang mga mali kong nagawa noon (The reason why I decided to return to the fold of the government is to correct the wrongdoings I did in the past),” said de Jesus, who is known in the group as “Ka Lolit”.
Ka Lolit is one of the 451 mass base supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA) who denounced and withdrew support from the communist terrorist group (CTG) during ceremonies on Thursday at the Atlantica Pandi 2 Resettlement Area in Barangay Mapulang Lupa.
The returnees took their oath of allegiance to the government, witnessed by Governor Daniel Fernando as head of the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC) and other officials.
After the oath-taking and signing, the Kadamay members, as proof of their withdrawal of support to the leftist group, burned the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) flag in front of police, military, and government officials.
Fernando said the continuous local peace engagement activities of the provincial government and local municipality of Pandi, PNP and Philippine Army such as information dissemination and situational interview made the Kadamay members aware of the government programs and the opportunity to change their lives and correct the mistakes they have committed due to deception by the CTG.
The governor said the Kadamay members’ decision to support the government is the best move on their part to avail the provincial government’s program to assist them.
“Walang hinangad na pangit ang gobyerno para sa atin. Nagpapasalamat ako kay Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte sa kanyang pagsisikap na tapusin ang hidwaan sa ating bansa (The government does not desire anything bad for us. I thank President Rodrigo Duterte for his efforts to end the conflict in our country),” he said.
Fernando said the provincial government has sustainable livelihood programs, as well as scholarship programs for Kadamay members or rebel returnees.
He assured the provision of social services, employment opportunities, and improved quality of life to the returnees.
“I will help and support you sa abot ng aking makakaya (to the best of my ability),” Fernando added.
Col. Lawrence Cajipe, provincial director of the Bulacan PNP, said the Bulacan police together with the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) and the AFP will remain committed to securing, ensuring and implementing law and order for the well-being of Filipinos including the future generations.
Pandi Mayor Roque said the 451 Kadamay returnees comprise the second batch of the group that has voluntarily surrendered and announced their support to the government.
Almost a year ago, he said some 185 Kadamay members surrendered in 11 resettlement sites in this town.
“Masaya ako dahil meron tayo nahihikayat na katulad nila para magbalik-loob sa gobyerno pero nakakalungkot dahil meron pa rin mga nabubulagan sa maling paniniwala ng mga iilan na lamang natitirang Kadamay (I am happy because we were able to persuade them to go back to the fold of the government but it is sad because there are still a few remaining Kadamay members who are blinded by the misconceptions),” Roque said.
After the ceremony, the former militants received food packs from the provincial and municipal governments. (Manny Balbin, PNA)