By Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – At least 24 alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA), including three women, surrendered to the Army’s 94th Infantry Battalion (IB) in Ayungon, Negros Oriental last Saturday.
Brigadier General Inocencio Pasaporte, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade (IBde), said surrenderers included Yunit Militia members, a medical officer, and a squad leader who were all members of Central Negros (CN) 2.
Pasaporte said that Yunit Militia members are those who stay in the area if the military troopers are visible, and blend in the community when the Army leaves the area, while regular members are those who accompany their combatants.
Some of the former rebels surrendered to barangay officials while others surfaced at the 94th IB headquarters.
Pasaporte said they were presented to Major General Benedict Arevalo, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division (ID) during his visit to the 94th IB headquarters in Ayungon town that day.
Eight short firearms, three rifle grenades, and a hand grenade were also turned over by the former rebels to Lieutenant Colonel Van Donald Almonte, 94th IB commander.
Pasaporte said the rebel returnees will undergo debriefing to determine the extent of their involvement with the NPA so that they can later enroll in the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP). He noted that an NPA rebel cannot surrender twice.
The former rebels are in the custody of the 94th IB headquarters for their safety.
Meanwhile, 25 former rebels who earlier surrendered to the 94th IB received a total of P250,000 worth of cash and educational assistance from the local government of Himamaylan through the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) last Friday.
The assistance program of the local government unit (LGU) aims to provide immediate support to the families affected by the local armed conflict while their E-CLIP is being processed. Through this intervention, the former rebels were given P10,000 each.
Under the E-CLIP, former rebels or their qualified beneficiaries will receive benefits of guaranteed safety and security, financial assistance, subsistence allowance, food expenses while in the custody of the receiving unit, travel and mobilization expenses, and corresponding compensation for surrendered firearms. This will help the former rebels return to their communities together with their families.
Almonte expressed his gratitude to the local government as their partner in the fight to end the insurgency and make way for a just and lasting peace in the hinterland communities of the city.
The collaboration of the LGU and the Army is a clear manifestation that the whole of nation approach is at work in Himamaylan City, Almonte said, as he urged other NPA rebels to lay down their arms.