SEVENTY-two members of the New People’s Army (NPA) operating in Eastern Mindanao region have surrendered to government security forces, bringing along with them 69 assorted high-powered fireams.
Spokesman Capt. Christian Uy of the 4th Infantry Division said that majority of those who surrendered were regular NPA members while the others belong to Milita ng Bayan operating in the mountainous areas of Caraga region and Region 10.
Of the 72, 48 were from Bukidnon, 18 from Agusan del Sur, three from Surigao del Sur, two from Misamis Oriental and one from Agusan del Norte,.
Uy said those who surrendered on Friday were the second batch of rebels that availed of the “Pagbabalik-loob” and “Gun for Peace” programs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
He added that last year, 35 rebels from the same region also decided to join the mainstream society. They turned over 39 fireams of different calibers.
“This undertaking has encouraged more rebels to surrender,” Uy said.
He said that P2.189 million will be distributed among the 72 rebels in exchange for the firearms they have surrendered.
Under the Guns for Peace program, rebels would receive a cash equivalent for every firearm that they would turn over, raging from P40,000 to P200,000, depending on the caliber.
Uy said the former rebels would also receive financial assistance from the Social Integration and Livelihood Programs of concerned local government units.
In addition, the 4th Infantry Division would also provide each rebel one hectare of land at Camp Kibaritan, Kalilangan, Bukidnon if they choose to avail.
The Philippine Army initially allocated a total of 200 hectares for the former rebels from its military reservation.
Uy said some of the reasons why the rebels opted to surrender are false promises from the NPA leadership, hardship in the underground movement and fear of being killed during clashes with government forces.
Uy said that from the latest batch of surrenderees, 13 were recruited when they were still minors, which, he pointed out, was a clear violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Right and International Humanitarian Law prohibiting the recruitment of children as combatants.