ZAMBOANGA CITY: Two New People’s Army (NPA) rebels have escaped from their group and surrendered to the military in Zamboanga del Norte, officials said on Tuesday.
Capt. Franco Suelto, a spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division, said cousins Jerry Lumangcag, 19, and Arnel Lumangcag, 25, also surrendered their AK-47 assault rifles to Lt. Col. Alvin Luzon, commander of the 53rd Infantry Battalion, in Guipos town.
Suelto said the duo surrendered following a successful campaign by Luzon of the military’s Gun-for-Peace program which aims to lure rebels back into the society.
Under the program, the military also pays for each weapon the rebels surrender on top of various livelihood programs and government aid to assist them in their new life.
He said the military will pay P58,000 each for the two rifles the rebels—who are natives of Misamis Occidental—surrendered to Luzon.
“For the AK-47 rifles, the two rebels will receive P58,000 each for their surrendered firearms. This will help them to start anew and return to their normal and peaceful lives,” Suelto said.
“This is another testament of the effectiveness of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Gun-for-Peace as a transition program for former rebels. The remnants of NPA in Zamboanga Peninsula and Misamis Occidental are abandoning the armed struggle and taking advantage of the government’s integration program,” he added.
Col. Aminkadra Undug, the acting division commander, com–mended Luzon’s group on the surrender of the rebels. “We will ensure the safety and well-being of the NPA rebels who will lay down their arms. This is an opportunity for them to live peacefully and return to the comforts of their families. We are Filipinos and we all aspire for a peaceful country,” he said.
The rebel group has been fighting for decades now in an effort to put up a separate communist state in the country.