P1 million incentives awarded to former rebels and tipsters

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DAVAO ORIENTAL — Seven former members of the Communist-Terrorist New People’s Army have voluntarily surrendered to the authorities in the hopes of getting another shot at living a normal life.

In a simple surrender ceremony on Monday, July 5, dubbed as “Pag-uli: Acceptance Ceremony of Returning Rebels,” Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang warmly welcomed the former insurgents as he awarded each of them  P100,000 cash assistance. Six tipsters and negotiators, on the other hand, who facilitated their surrender have received P50,000 each.

A total of P1 million was awarded during yesterday’s ceremony. This additional cash benefit that the provincial government offers to surrenderees and tipsters aims to entice more rebels to yield to the government in the hopes of attaining the province’s target of zero insurgency by the end of the year.

The former rebels who were identified as alias “Abay,” “Kabal,” “Ram,” “Renz,” “Champ,” “Daks,” and “Remel”, who were operating in different fronts in Davao Oriental and parts of the nearby provinces of Davao de Oro and Davao del Norte, say they finally decided to yield because they no longer see worth in the ideals they used to fight for.

“I realized we were only sacrificing our lives for nothing in the terrorist organization while witnessing positive changes in the lives of our former comrades who already surrendered. We have realized we were deceived with the false and empty promises of our terrorist NPA leaders and cadres,” Ka-Renz, a former Team Leader of Front 2 operating in Davao de Oro and some parts of Davao Oriental, said in an interview.

Ka-Renz did not only get empty promises from NPA recruiters who told him that his children’s education will be covered while he fights for the movement, he also lost a hand in an encounter against the government troops.

“I lost more than just a part of a limb in joining the Communist group. I was robbed of my peace and time with my family.  If I could go back in time, I never would have chosen to join them,” he said.

He added that there is no “win-win” situation in the Communist group, and people should be aware that there is no other government other than the Republic of the Philippines.

One of the surrenderers also said that the morale of the remaining members of the rebel group was dropping after losing their other leaders and comrades to a series of encounters with government troops.

Following their surrender, the seven (7) rebel returnees will be processed under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) where they can avail of other government assistance like housing, livelihood programs, remuneration for the firearms surrendered, and scholarships, among many others.

They will also receive immediate cash assistance and livelihood assistance amounting to a total of P65,000 as soon as they graduate from the 3-month intervention process at the Happy Home.

The government continues to entice NPA rebels and their supporters to surrender and give back their allegiance to the government as part of the peace initiative of President Rodrigo Duterte, as well as the provincial government’s goal of ending insurgency by the end of the year 2021.

“The successive voluntary surrender of NPA members and the withdrawal of support of the masses are making the NPA movement weaker. In the reports received, only around 20 NPA members operating all over Davao Oriental. I am confident we will achieve our goal of an insurgency-free province by the end of this year,” Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang said.

Also present during the ceremony was 701st Kagitingan Brigade Commander Col. Oliver Maquiling who gave his congratulations to the surrenderees for making the right decision to give up the armed struggle and embrace the opportunity of living a peaceful and meaningful life with their loved ones.

Facilitated by the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office headed by Ms. Sarah Gudes, the distribution of cash assistance was witnessed by Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Provincial Director Orle Cabaobao, Davao Oriental Police Provincial Office Representative Police Major Ronel B. Tesorero, and personalities from the media. By Shaye Dacles

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