CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan de Oro City – The provincial government of Bukidnon and the 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division officially welcomed 30 former rebels (FRs), who used to be members and leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front.
They were subsequently reunited with their respective families during the 403rd Infantry Brigade’s press conference on Oct. 12, 2021, at Camp Osito D. Bahian, Malaybalay, Bukidnon.
The said FRs who surrendered to the 8th Infantry Battalion, 88th Infantry Battalion and 43rd Military Intelligence Company (43MICO) that are under the operational control of the 403rd Brigade were presented to Bukidon Gov. Jose Maria R. Zubiri Jr. as a symbolic acceptance for the official reintegration of the FRs back to peaceful lives in the province.
Also in attendance during the activity were Maj. Gen. Romeo S. Brawner Jr., Commander of 4ID; Brig. Gen. Ferdinand T. Barandon, Commander of 403rd Brigade, Raymund D. Lopez, Assistant Regional Director of National Intelligence Coordinating Agency 10 (NICA10); Police Lt. Col. Daryl Aramton, Police Provincial Office of Bukidnon; Charmaigne Tadlas, Capability and Development Officer of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Region 10; and 403rd Bde’s Deputy Brigade Commander, Col. Jose Arn M. Real, together with the Battalion Commanders of 8IB, 88IB and 1st Special Forces Battalion.
Barandon disclosed that the FRs who are all from Bukidnon surrendered out of fear for their lives and brought along different calibers of 22 high-powered firearms and three low-powered firearms.
“Six high-value individuals were among the surrenderers who led their members to give up the armed struggle as they realized the sincerity of the government. The CTG (communist terrorist groups) have led them to extreme exhaustion all while running from the relentless military operations of the government troops. As such, we welcome them with open arms and commitment as we guide and assist them in peacefully transitioning into the mainstream society,” Barandon said.
Meanwhile, Zubiri pledged to build 200 houses for the FRs in Bukidnon, wherein the 30 FRs are included as among the beneficiaries, as his commitment to provide better opportunities for them and continue to inspire remaining CTG members to surrender.
“Ang akong kalipay [karong adlawa] murag dili matupungan. Nalipay ko kay ania mo karon galingkod ug naghulat nga makadawat kamo sa gamay na hinabang gikan kanamo tungod sa inyung desisyon sa pag-surender kay tutal usa raman tang tanan, Pilipino man tang tanan. Kitang Pilipino dili ta mag away away pa,” Zubiri said.
(My joy [today] cannot be measured. I am happy seeing each of you here today waiting to receive our simple assistance due to your decision to surrender. After all, we should not fight against each other and instead be united as one since we are all Filipinos.)
“Kung naa pa kamoy mga amigo sa bukid, palihug hangyoa sila. Magsurender na kamo, igarantiya ko kamo sa inyung pagsureder sama sa nagsurender diri. Dawata ang akong kinasing-kasing na pagpasalamat. Isip usa ka amahan sa probinsya sa Bukidnon, ginadawat ko kamo isip akung mga anak. Manaog na sila arun malipay ilang pamuhi, ilang asawa, ilang mga anak ug arun matipon sila”, Zubiri added.
(If you still know someone fighting for the CTG, encourage them to surrender. I will guarantee their peaceful and proper surrender the same as that with the FRs who surrendered here. Accept my heartfelt gratitude, as the father here in the province of Bukidnon, I accept you as my children. Retreat from the mountains in order to have a happy life with your wives and children and so that you will all be reunited.)
During the activity, the FRs were given PHP25,000 each by the provincial government of Bukidnon, as well as a hygiene kit, a sack of rice, and a carton of food packs from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 10 (Northern Mindanao).
Likewise, Zubiri pledged an additional PHp25,000 for each of the 30 FRs as financial assistance of the provincial government of Bukidnon.
Since 2016, a total of 1,419 FRs have already received financial assistance package and other benefits from different government agencies under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) in the 4ID’s AOR, while in the 403rd Brigade AOR alone, 548 FRs already received their E-CLIP benefits and 361 are still for funding.
In a statement, Brawner thanked the FRs for voluntarily returning to peaceful lives and reuniting with their families.
He highlighted the capture of more than 1,000 sticks of dynamites that can be used to make improvised explosive devices (IEDs) which were voluntarily divulged by a recent surrenderer.
He commended the Brigade Commander of the 403rd Brigade and its Battalion Commanders as prime movers for the successful surrender of the CTG. He also reiterated his offer to the CTG to surrender or “magbalik-loob sa mapayapang pamumuhay” or face the consequences.
“We will continue our campaign against the CPP-NPA-NDF but more than the combat accomplishment, this act of yielding to the government is more important because we are all Filipinos and we do not want to kill each other. Your soldiers are committed to respect Human Rights and to adhere to the International Humanitarian Law particularly in confronting the CTG,” Brawner added.
“The FRs can return now to their normal lives and do not need to fight the government anymore. Different agencies are present to give the FRs the benefits deserved. The EO70 that created the Task Force in Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict is very much alive”, Brawner said. (PNA)