CEBU CITY – Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, Visayas Command (Viscom) chief, has reiterated his call on the remaining New People’s Army rebels to put down their arms while the government offers to provide them with opportunities to live as normal members of society.
“The door of genuine peace remains open for you. Grab the opportunity and take it while you still have the chance. Follow the lead of your former comrades, lay down your arms, return to the folds of the law, and live a peaceful life with your families,” Arevalo said in a statement issued on Monday.
Arevalo said the Communist Party of the Philippines’ armed wing, NPA, is crumbling as they continue to lose its foothold in the Visayas.
The Viscom chief said the remaining communist fighters have only two options, either to stay on the course of their false armed struggle and fall to the long arms of justice, or return to the folds of the law and enjoy a peaceful and progressive life with their loved ones.
Arevalo cited the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) and local government unit (LGU)-initiated projects that have been helping former rebels to go back on their feet and live as regular members of the community.
On April 3, there were 21 former rebels in Negros Oriental province who received a total of PHP755,000 cash assistance from the E-CLIP and the provincial government, following the turnover of the newly-constructed Halfway House in Tanjay City.
Lt. Colonel Israel Galorio, Viscom’s spokesperson, said on Monday the military in the Visayas continues to sustain the gains in the internal security operations against the CPP-NPA, especially when the Armed Forces of the Philippines placed six Army Battalions in Negros Oriental to suppress violence that included the killing of Governor Roel Degamo.
“We have a total of 18 armed encounters in the region recorded for the month of March this year, which translated into the neutralization of 25 communist terrorists, five of whom died during encounters while 20 returned to the folds of the law,” Galorio told the Philippine News Agency in an interview.
Galorio said 14 supporters withdrew from backing up the communist rebels operating in the Negros Island.
Government troops, he said, recovered 30 firearms and a 60mm Mortar, apart from the four anti-personnel mines (APM) which are banned under the Ottawa Treaty of 1997, and four improvised explosive devices.
Following the murder of Degamo on March 4 in his residential compound in Pamplona town, Arevalo said soldiers from the six Army Battalions would stay in Negros Oriental until peace and order are restored. (PNA)