CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The signing of Executive Order (EO) 70 by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in 2018 proved to be effective in convincing more New People Army (NPA) guerillas to surrender, according to an Army official.
At a conference in Bukidnon on Tuesday, Maj. Gen. Romeo S. Brawner Jr., Army’s 4th Infantry Division commander, said for the longest time, the approach of the government in ending communist-led insurgency was through military offensives.
“It did not address (fully) the root of the problem, but it’s the delivery of basic (government) services to the people (that is the bigger solution),” he said during the program at the 403rd Infantry Brigade headquarters in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, where a total of 30 former rebels officially surrendered.
They will receive amnesty projects under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program, he said.
Brawner said with EO 70’s “Whole-of-Nation Approach,” both government agencies and the citizens can help in providing projects and programs to the former rebels who have surrendered.
EO 70 pursues to institutionalize the whole-of-nation approach for collective participation and action in harmonizing government development efforts and services to support, facilitate and pursue the country’s peace agenda.
“Before, local governments had no direct involvement (with anti-communist insurgency campaigns), but now we can see them in the forefront,” Brawner said.
Charmaine Tadlas, a community relations officer of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Region 10 (Northern Mindanao), said former rebels are gradually made to integrate into communities after their surrender.
“Before we prepare them (former rebels) to the communities, we prepare the communities first,” she said.
Tadlas said around PHP300,000 worth of projects and rehabilitation are conducted in every community that will receive former rebels for reintegration into mainstream society.
She said their agency also provides psycho-social support for former rebels who experience bullying and discrimination.
One of the recent surrenderers was a family of four who were once part of the NPA’s Guerilla Front 89, Sub-Regional Committee 2, North Central Mindanao Regional Committee.
Led by Ronald Landasan, 47, and wife Diden, 43, a finance officer, they surrendered at the 8IB’s headquarters in Impasugong, Bukidnon on Oct. 8, 2021.
With them are their two daughters – Honey Mae, 21, a medic; and Yassi, 16, a platoon member.
“We want to live peacefully. My daughter Yassi was only 14 years old when she joined (the NPA). My daughter Honey is seven months pregnant. I am afraid that they will die in the mountains fighting for the wrong ideals,” Diden said in the vernacular.
Ronald was the one who divulged locations of NPA hideouts and arms cache in Bukidnon which led to the recent discovery of 1,076 pieces of dynamites used as anti-personnel landmines (APMs).
The NPA, together with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front, is listed as a terrorist organization by the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)