The surrender of 25 former guerilla fighters of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Negros Occidental is a “big blow” to the rebel movement, a top official of the Philippine Army said.
Maj. Gen. Dinoh Dolina, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division (3ID), said the mass abandonment strongly indicates the continued downfall of the CPP-NPA.
“The surrender of the 25 will surely weaken the strength and armed capability of the communist terrorists in Negros Island,” he added.
On March 2, the former NPA fighters yielded to military and police authorities in a ceremony held at the Philippine Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion (79IB) headquarters in Barangay Bato, Sagay City.
The 25 surrenderers, who were formerly operating in the boundaries of Murcia and Don Salvador Benedicto towns and San Carlos City, turned themselves in after months of localized peace negotiations.
Dolina said they expect more surrenderers as former rebels and supporters express their disappointment and realize that the NPA has become more of terrorist group than a people’s army that it claims to be.
“It will create drastic demoralization among the remaining members of the communist terrorist group that will certainly encourage them to surrender,” he added.
Dolina appealed anew to the remaining members of the CPP-NPA to abandon the armed struggle, return to the fold of the law, and avail of the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
The program entitles a former rebel to receive immediate assistance of P15,000; livelihood assistance, P50,000; firearms remuneration, P12,000 to P500,000; half-way house assistance; PhilHealth enrolment and medical assistance; education assistance; housing assistance; legal assistance; and healing and reconciliation initiatives.
Last February 18, a total of 11 former rebels in Negros Occidental under the custody of the 62nd Infantry Battalion and the 3rd Civil-Military Operations Battalion received reintegration assistance worth P21,000 each from the Department of the Interior and Local Government before their enrolment to the E-CLIP.* (Nanette Guadalquiver, NDB)