Members of the New People's Army 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 Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr.
Lt. Col. Roderick Garcia, commander of the 79th “Masaligan” Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army based in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental, said yesterday that the offer of Marañon is not only limited to NPA members in Negros Occidental.
Both provinces belong to the Negros Island Region, and so, therefore, to attain lasting peace, all NPA members in the island are covered by Marañon's offer, Garcia said.
Marañon 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.
Garcia said Marañon's offer is on top of the P65,000 aid that the government, through its Comprehensive Livelihood Integration Program, is giving per rebel who will surrender to authorities.
The CLIP is being implemented through the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Interior and Local Government.
Those who will surrender will undergo a process before being listed as a beneficiary to the program, as well as to the offer of Gov. Marañon, Garcia said.
He said there are about 50 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, Garcia said.
He is hoping that the rebels will take the offer of Marañon while there are no peace talks at the local 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 they can be processed, Garcia said.
He assured them of their security and safety as they return to the folds of the law and be integrated into mainstream society.*JFP
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