The Army’s 302nd Infantry Brigade reported yesterday that five more self-confessed members of the New People’s Army have given themselves up to the 79th Infantry Battalion in Siaton, Negros Oriental.
Capt. Aniceto Naz, 302nd Infantry Brigade Civil Military Operations Officer, identified four of the five rebel returnees, who used to occupy different positions in the rebel movement, as Pantaleon Palopalo, 45; Crisabel Bantoto, 37; Ramsy Cabanag, 19; and Jomarie Bantoto, 37. The name of the fifth surrenderee was, however, withheld for security reasons.
This was after the 12 other rebels who surrendered to the 302nd Infantry Brigade availed of P55,000 in livelihood assistance grants from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process in the first semester of this year.
Naz said a similar assistance will be received by the five rebel returnees from OPPAP.
In Negros Occidental, the 303rd Infantry Brigade reported that 67 ex-rebels who surrendered to the military, also availed of about P700,000 in livelihood and financial assistance from the provincial government of Negros Occidental.
Naz said the objective of OPPAP program is to ensure the successful integration of former rebels in the community, and to improve their socio-economic status.
Military records show that since 2008, the strength of the NPAs in the area of southeastern Negros has continued to dwindle as a result of both the combat operations and peace and development initiatives of the Army..
From the 90 armed members deployed in four platoons operating in the hinterlands of the 2nd and 3rd districts of Negros Oriental, Naz claimed that the NPA strength has been reduced to only 26, and the number of platoons to only one, concentrated in the boundaries of Sta. Catalina and Siaton in the southern part of the province.
“The main reason why the NPAs go back to the folds of law is the hardship they endured while in the armed group and the demoralization within. The time has come that they have realized the futility of the armed struggle as a solution to the issues/problems in the hinterlands communities,” Naz said.*GPB