DAVAO ORIENTAL – Five more red fighters in Davao Oriental joined the growing list of Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) defectors who chose to return to the fold of the law.
Provincial Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang has welcomed the five (5) rebel returnees on Monday, April 19 at the Provincial Capitol in a ceremony dubbed as “Pag-uli: Acceptance Ceremony for Returning Rebels.”
Civil Military Operations Officer of the 701st Brigade of the Philippine Army Captain Maximo Trinidad, Jr. revealed that two (2) platoon leaders and three (3) regular CPP-NPA-NDF red fighters have surrendered to the Revitalized Police sa Barangay (RPSB) Force in Barangay Maragatas in Lupon.
Ka-“Jeckel” and Ka-“Banjie” were Platoon Leaders of Front 18 which operates around Davao Oriental. Ka-“AJ” was the head of firearms in SR2 which is active in the municipalities of Maco, Mabini, Pantukan and Maragusan in Davao de Oro. Ka-“Teddy” is a 13-year old member of Front 18, while “Jane” was in Front 25 that works in some parts of Compostela Valley.
Three of them surrendered firearms which include one (1) M653 with M203, one (1) AK47, and one (1) M653 R4 with M203.
Provincial Director of the Davao Oriental Provincial Police Office (DOPPO) Police Colonel Efren Orlina said their decision to concede to the government is a response to the call of the President for the remnants of the rebel group to surrender.
“We expect that more NPA leaders and members will heed the call of the president to return to the folds of the government,” Pol. Col. Orlina said.
He also added that the presence of the RPSB in the communities has been helpful not only in maintaining peace and order, but also in assisting rebel returnees who wish to return to the folds of the law.
701st Brigade Commander COL OLIVER MAQUILING said a continuous community support program to bring to villages the programs and projects of the government convinced the former rebels to give up the fight.
COL MAQUILING added that the military, in collaboration with different government agencies, will not stop in bringing the programs and projects of the government, especially to communities that have been left undeveloped.
He thanked the former rebels for trusting the Philippine Army and the government.
Governor Nelson Dayanghirang assured the NPA members that the government will provide all the needed assistance such as livelihood, skills training, housing, among other scores of government support.
Apart from that, the Governor handed over P100,000 to each of the former rebels, while the tipsters and negotiators received P50,000 each. The cash distribution was assisted by the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO).
“This is a new chance given to you. Do not waste it. It is never too late to start anew and create a life you have always wanted to provide to your family and loved ones,” the Governor told the FRs.
Governor Dayanghirang gave the directive to grant government benefits to the rebel returnees under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
A Fresh Start
Despite receiving cash incentive from the Governor for conceding, Ka-“Jeckel” said there was a much deeper motivation as to why they decided to surrender.
“I did not know the government would give us money if we surrender. Before I went down, I have thought about it for so long. We were taught different things inside the movement and we were told what could happen to us if we surrender, so even if I was already starting to doubt the cause of the revolution, I stayed,” he said.
He added that the longer he stayed in the movement, the more he realized that the goals they were taught to believe in were pointless. He also described the life in the mountains to be “awful” as they would go for days transferring from one place to another, with nothing to eat.
“Whatever they promised us to convince us to join them… none of those became real,” he said.
For Ka-“Jeckel,” the P100,000 cash assistance from the Governor was an icing on top of the cake. He said that he was grateful enough to have been granted a new life where there would be no more hiding and fighting, more so when he was given the financial support he can use for the new life he is designing for him and his family. By Shaye Dacles