By Mike Crismundo
BUTUAN CITY – Amidst the coronavirus disease (COVID 91) crisis, 21 former Communist-New People’s Army (NPA) rebels received financial assistance from the government through the Enhance Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) here on Monday, June 15.
Of the 21 former NPAs who received assistance, 15 had surrendered to the Army’s 23rd Infantry Battalion (23rdIB), and were former members of Guerrilla Front 4-A (GF 4-A) of the CPP-NPA North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC).
Four also yielded to the 29th IB, and two to Caraga Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13).
A total of 12 firearms were handed over by the former rebels to the government during the distribution of cash assistance, while seven weapons came from those who surrendered to 23rd IB while five from the 29th IB, 23rd IB Civil Military Operations (CMO) Officer 1st Lt. Roel T. Maglalang said.
Among the firearms they surrendered to the 23rd IB were two .45 caliber pistols, two M16 rifles and three carbine rifles. The firearms the former rebels surrendered to the 29th IB include one M14 rifle, one .38 caliber pistol, one AK-47 rifle, one carbine rifle, and one shotgun, he said.
During the event, a ceremonial turnover of the firearms was featured to symbolize the former rebels’ pledge to shun violence, and embrace peaceful lives with their families.
The firearms were received by Agusan del Norte Gov. Dale B.Corvera and Agusan del Norte 2nd District Rep. Ma. Angelica Rosedell M. Amante-Matba.
Each of the former rebels received P86,000 as immediate livelihood and re-integration assistance.
They also received hygiene kits from the Department of Health (DOH 13).
The distribution activity at one of the city’s hotel and convention center here was also graced by Regional Director Lilibeth Famacion of the Department of Interior and Local Government in Caraga Region (DILG-13), 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade Commander Brig. Gen. Maurito L. Licudine, 29th IB commander Lt. Col. Isagani O. Criste and 23rd IB commander Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo.
Among those who received the E-CLIP assistance was a certain “K Karla” (name withheld for her safety), who expressed gratitude to the government for the support they received as they will start their new lives.
She also lauded the 23rd IB for providing the former rebels abodes inside their headquarters, and a community that inspired them for months and helped them strengthen their decision to renew their lives.
Karla said she was recruited by the NPA at the age of 14. She added the Communists took advantage of her innocence by giving her false hope that they will help her finish her studies when she joined the armed group.
She voluntarily surrendered last March 27, 2019 to Amante-Matba, who was then the governor of Agusan del Norte.
“K Karla” started the new journey of her renewed life inside the 23rd IB headquarters where she met the right guy she felt in love with, a member of CAFGU Active Auxiliary (CAA), and exchanged vows with him inside the camp on December 18, 2019.