SAN JOSE DE BUENAVISTA, Antique – Recruited to the armed movement while still a public school student in a remote barangay of Sibalom, Antique, a 22-year-old surrenderer has advised the youth to focus and finish their studies so as not to be enticed to join and experienced the hardships hiding in the mountains.
On Tuesday, the former rebel said he joined the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) out of frustration for failing in Science.
“I was not able to finish my Grade 10 because of that failure,” he said in an interview.
He momentarily stopped school until he was lured by his friends in Barangay Imparayan to join the rebel group.
At first, he just wanted to experience the life of a rebel but later on, he realized that he could no longer get out of the communist movement. “I was with the CPP-NPA for five years based in Igbaras, Iloilo province,” he said.
His family tried to find him. The youngest of nine siblings, his older brother tried joining the CPP-NPA last year to be able to locate him.
However, they failed to cross paths as he was assigned in Miagao while his brother was in Igbaras.
“I felt so lonely being away from my family for five years and having no contact with them. The hardship I experienced for not being able to sleep well at night made me finally decide to contact my brother who had just gone out of the CPP-NPA last month,” he said.
He was motivated to surrender when he heard of the news about the other former rebels in Antique who yielded through Executive Order 70 or End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC).
“I surrendered only to the Sibalom Police Station last April 27 this year,” he said, adding it was his brother who coordinated with the Sibalom Police Station for him to yield.
On Tuesday, he and two other surrenderers receive assistance from the Antique provincial government and the local government unit of Sibalom.
“I am thankful that through the EO 70 I was able to receive assistance for my surrender,” he said.
Sibalom Mayor Gian Carlo Occeña welcomed the rebels’ surrender being the key to peace and order in his municipality.
“The LGU is giving aid to individuals in crisis situation (AICS) in the amount of PHP5,000, a sack of rice and livelihood to the Former Rebels (FRs),” he said during the program.
He said that Sibalom has already welcomed back 13 former rebels to the fold of law since October 22, 2020.
The Antique provincial government, through the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, also extended food packs and PHP5,000 AICS to every surrenderer.
The 13 surrenderers in Sibalom will also receive PHP20,000 assistance each under the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Raymund Cervantes, DSWD-SLP Project Development Officer II, said they are now processing the SLP of the three recent surrenderers while they are still waiting for the Joint Philippine National Police-Armed Forces of the Philippines Intelligence Certificate (JPIC) of the 10 others.
“The JPIC is a certification that the FRs (former rebels) have no pending case in the court and is a requirement for them to receive the SLP,” he said. (PNA)