“Best Christmas Ever”-New People’s Army

CAMP GEN MATEO CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal — This was how five former NPA rebels described their holidays after spending it with their families following their surrender to government forces in Batangas on December 21.

According to Brigadier General Arnulfo Marcelo B Burgos Jr, commander of the Army’s 202nd Infantry Brigade which has operational jurisdiction over the area, the former NPAs surrendered to the elements of 1st Infantry Battalion which facilitated their safe return to the fold of law and reintegration to mainstream society.

“They are just some of the remnants of the terrorist organization operating in the province which is now on the final stages of dismantling following the series of major debacles against our forces last year and the mass surrender of 13 former rebels before the SND and the SILG last August in Tanauan City,” said BGen Burgos.

Lt Col Jonathan Manio, Commander of the Army’s 1IB, said that for this year alone, “nine former rebels surrendered to our unit, laid down their arms and decided to live in peace” after experiencing hardships in evading military operations and realizing the government’s overwhelming military might against the rebels’ sub-standard firearms and depleted manpower.

The 202nd Brigade has recorded 24 surrenders from Laguna, Batangas and the 1st and 2nd Districts of Quezon in 2018 alone. Out of his figure, 18 have already availed the benefits under the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) while the rest are expected to be awarded next month.

The E-CLIP is a holistic inter-agency approach of the governments to end insurgency peacefully by encouraging rebels to join mainstream society through various grants and compensations which they can use to start-over and become responsible members of Philippine society.

Upon validation and approval of their enrollment to the program, each former rebel will receive Php 65,000.00 representing the immediate and livelihood assistance to former NPA’s as a welcome gesture from the government and peace-loving Filipino citizens. This is on top of the housing, education, and health care benefits, among others, which the government is offering in its effort to unify the country and attain genuine, lasting peace.

Major General Rhoderick Parayno, Commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, welcomed the former rebels and congratulate them “for choosing their families over their comrades, for choosing peace over being extortionists who terrorize their fellow Filipinos.”

He reiterated the AFP’s call for peace while assuring the former rebels’ safety as well as that of their families. “The NPAs have lost their relevance. They have not only lost 50 years, they wasted 50 years of their lives pursuing their false ideology.”

One of the former rebels was quoted as saying that they have no regrets for turning themselves in. “Muntik ko nang makalimutan ang tunay na diwa ng pasko dahil sa maling pakikibaka. Masarap palang ipagdiwang ito kasama ang pamilya nang walang takot na nadarama. Sana ay maranasan rin ito ng mga kasama,” said the former rebel.

Incidentally, the Communist Party of the Philippines commemorated their 50th founding anniversary yesterday.

The identities and location of the former NPAs are being withheld as part of the strict security protocol being observed by the AFP.