THE persevering efforts of local peace panels have had positive results as more communist rebels have laid down their arms and returned to the fold of law.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said because of the persevering efforts of local officials and local peace and order councils, several communist rebels have already seen the light, turned back on their twisted ideology, and returned to mainstream society.
Año cited a recent development where 114 former Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) supporters and militias surrendered and promised to be back to their usual life.
In a simple ceremony held at Barangay 2 covered court in Bacolod City last week, the rebels also swore in and pledged loyalty to the government.
“Dahil sa sipag at pagpupursigi ng ating mga local officials, natanggal na ang kaliskis sa mga mata ng mga dating rebelde at naliwanagan na sila na walang saysay at kabuluhan ang kanilang ipinaglalaban,” the DILG chief said.
The surrenderees are residents of Barangays Quezon, Guadalupe, Buluangan, Nataban, and Cod-cod.
Año said their oath of allegiance was facilitated by the Philippine Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion (IB) with the presence of the city mayor and the city chief of police, officials from various barangays, and a representative from the DILG.
Earlier, the 79IB also facilitated the conduct of the oath of allegiance of two groups, which also renounced support to the CPP-NPA, in two cities in northern Negros.
Last February 22, 80 former members and mass supporters of the CPP-NPA pledged loyalty to the government in Victorias City.
They are from Barangays Estado and Gawahon in Victorias City; Caduhaan in Cadiz City; Canlusong in EB Magalona; and San Pablo in Manapla.
The following day, 35 persons from Escalante City also expressed their loyalty to the Philippine government.
They included residents of Binaguiohan, Pinapugasan, Paitan, and Dian-ay, who took their oath of allegiance before Pastor Morito Panadero at the battalion’s headquarters in Barangay Bato, Sagay City.
“Bukas ang pinto ng pamahalaan para sa mga rebelde na nais nang magbagong buhay at makipagtulungan sa gobyerno na tahakin ang landas ng pagbabago. Hindi pa huli ang lahat para sa inyo,” Año said.
According to the DILG chief, the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict by President Duterte will also lead to more rebel surrenders because of its focus on localized peace engagements.
The government has disbursed around P488 million for the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) to aid former rebels in their return to the mainstream including their immediate family members.