COTABATO CITY – A town mayor in North Cotabato on Monday has called on other communist guerrillas still in the mountains and fighting a lost cause to come down and peacefully rejoin the mainstream.
Mayor Francis Aris Uy of Libungan, North Cotabato aired the appeal after he presented 29 former members of communist New Peoples’ Army (NPA) on Sunday to Col. Jovencio Gonzales, the Army’s 602nd Army Brigade commander, and Lt. Col. Edgardo Vilchez Jr, the 34th Infantry Battalion commander, during a surrender ceremony held at the municipal gymnasium.
“Come down and avail of the benefits to be provided by the government through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP),” Uy said in a statement Monday as he called on NPA rebels still up in the mountains.
Both Gonzales and Vilchez hailed the mayor’s appeal for the NPA combatants to come down with a “peaceful surrender atmosphere.”
Romeo Segundo, one of the surrenderers, admitted he only realized later that the NPAs had fooled him into joining the movement with the promise of a better life.
“It is not too late for us to surrender though and renew our lives,” Segundo said.
“We will never allow them to fool us again, there were many promises that remained unfulfilled,” said Edwin Malag, another former NPA member.
Both Segundo and Malag thanked the government for giving them the opportunity to live normal lives and the privilege to avail of government assistance.
Military officials also lauded the rebels for choosing the right path to peace and being with their families this Christmas.
Uy believed that there are more rebels who are willing to surrender soon.
The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)