Two pregnant former communist rebels, along with seven others, have surrendered to the military and were given assistance on Thursday.
Marga Lenyel, seven-month-old pregnant; and Angie Pinaapol, five-month-old pregnant, both aged 23, surrendered to the Army’s 58th Infantry Battalion (58IB), headquarters in Claveria town, Bukidnon.
Lenyel said her previous experiences when she was a combatant of the New People’s Army (NPA) were “vastly different” from what she is experiencing now that she has returned to the folds of the law.
“We were not taken care of, especially to pregnant women (fighters). We traverse the jungles in darkness at night because there were no lights. Even when you asked permission to visit your family, they (higher-ranking NPA officers) will not allow you to do so, that is why some (other fighters) who escaped without informing them,” she said in vernacular.
Lenyel also said even a simple visit to her first-born child who was then three weeks old was prohibited by her former superiors, and when she was given the opportunity to do so, she has to return immediately. She was able to meet her son when he turned two years old.
During a simple turnover at the headquarters, Lenyel and the eight other former rebels were given livelihood assistance and other government services under the “Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).”
The former rebels also surrendered their firearms and ammunition to the Army headquarters.
Since all of them were residents of Malitbog town, in Bukidnon province, the local government unit (LGU) provided food packs, P5,000 cash aid each, hygiene kits, sleeping kits, among others.
They also received P10,000 cash aid from the Department of Social Welfare and Development Region 10 office.
Col. Adonis Ariel G. Orio, Commander of 402nd Infantry Brigade, assured that the two pregnant women will be taken care of with their medical especially when they give birth.
He said the surrenders were real people, debunking the claims of critics about fabricated or “recycled” surrenders, as they have a stringent process of identification and profiling.