DAVAO CITY – Nine members of the communist movement have surrendered to the provincial government of Davao Oriental following a series of clashes between government troops recently.
In a statement on Sunday, Karen Lou Deloso, provincial information officer, said members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who surrendered were involved in extortion of food from the poor families in the town of Baganga.
She said the former rebels are being temporarily accommodated in a halfway house called “Happy Home,” a provincial government-run facility that helps rebels in transition to civilian life.
Deloso also said the provincial government of Davao Oriental is set to give PHP7,000 each to the former rebels which served as immediate assistance, while the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) benefits are currently being processed.
Governor Nelson Dayanghirang has called on the surrendered rebels to ask their comrades in the mountain lairs to go back to the folds of law and “to stop spreading fear and perpetrating atrocities against the hapless innocent civilians who are struggling to survive the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.”
For the month of April, a series of clashes occurred in various towns of Davao Oriental.
Based on the report of the Army’s 701st Infantry Brigade (701st IBde), the government troops engaged the rebels in the area on April 11, 12, 16, and 18, resulting in the death of two NPA fighters and in the confiscation of several high-powered firearms and three landmines.
Capt. Maximo Trinidad Jr., civil-military operations officer of the Philippine Army’s 701st IBde, said the rebels wanted to seize the cash assistance being given by the government to the poor families through the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).
He added that out of the nine surrenderers, only one had yielded with a firearm, a Garand rifle.
“Most of the rebels here in Davao Oriental are Mandaya natives. They are being manipulated by the rebel group who exploit their extreme poverty as they live in geographically isolated and depressed areas,” Trinidad said.
Meanwhile, Dayanghirang has condemned the “atrocities being committed by the communist rebels to innocent civilians at a time when everyone is living in fear and insecurity because of Covid-19 pandemic.”
“Please stop terrorizing our people. Let us help each other instead for we are all Filipinos. No reason to kill each other,” he said. (IA/PNA)