DUMAGUETE CITY-- Members of the insurgent group, the New People's Army (NPA) in Negros Oriental, are encouraged to lay down their arms and surrender to authorities and avail of a P300,000 cash assistance offered by Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo MaraAon.
Lt. Col. Roderick Garcia, commander of the 79th "Masaligan" Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army based in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental, explained Wednesday that the offer of Gov. MaraAon is not only limited to NPA members in Negros Occidental.
Both provinces belong to the Negros Island Region (NIR), and so, therefore, to attain lasting peace, all NPA members in the island are covered by MaraAon's offer, said Garcia.
Gov. MaraAon had earlier announced his offer to all active members of the NPA in NIR of a maximum of P300,000 per rebel who will surrender to government with a high-powered firearm.
Those without a firearm will receive cash assistance of up to P100,000.
Lt. Col. Garcia pointed out that the Negros Occidental governor's offer is on top of the P65,000 aid that government, through its Comprehensive Livelihood Integration Program (CLIP), is giving per rebel who will surrender to authorities.
The CLIP is being implemented through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Those who will surrender will undergo a process prior to being listed as a beneficiary to the program, as well as to the offer of Gov. MaraAon, said Garcia.
According to the 79th IB commander, there are more or less 50 NPA rebels still reported in Negros Oriental to date.
They are mostly sighted in the first district of the province, particularly in Guihulngan City, Canlaon City, Tayasan and Ayungon.
However, many of them are mobile as they cross boundaries to the other side of the island, the Army commander said.
Lt. Col. Garcia is hoping that the NPA rebels will take the offer of Gov. MaraAon while there are no peace talks at the local and/or national level.
Once a peace agreement is reached, the offer will no longer stand, Garcia said, because there will be certain arrangements all packaged as part of the agreement, such as livelihood, housing and others similar to those offered to the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade.
Following the failure of the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the NPA at the national level, officials in Negros Island have announced considering holding local peace talks.
NPA members wishing to surrender may send feelers to authorities, especially the Philippine Army, so their papers can be processed, said Lt. Col. Garcia.
Garcia assures them of their security and safety as they return to the folds of the law and be integrated into mainstream society.
Source: Philippines News Agency