Sobejana tells NPAs: Gov't is here if you want to change your life

Published June 6, 2021, 2:38 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff, General Cirilito Sobejana has encouraged active members of the New People’s Army (NPA) to lay down their arms and take advantage of the government’s desire to help them change their lives.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Cirilito Sobejana (Photo from Philippine News Agency)

Sobejana said NPA rebels and other members of violent extremist groups should “not miss the opportunity” to return to the fold of the law through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

“Ang inyong Armed Forces at ang national government ay talagang sincere sa pagtanggap doon sa mga gustong magbagong-buhay (Your armed forces and the national government are sincere in accepting those who want to change their lives),” said Sobejana in a statement Saturday, June 5.

Communist insurgency is regarded by the government as the country’s top security concern as President Duterte directed the military and police to lead the campaign against the NPA before he steps down from office next year.

NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

At present, there are an estimated 4,000 NPA fighters in the country, according to National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

A New People’s Army (NPA) rebel with an alias “Ka Alvin” (right) surrenders his firearm in Iloilo City. (RPIO-6/MANILA BULLETIN)

Sobejana said that the “formula” to finally put an end to the over five-decade long insurgency problem is the “whole-of-nation” approach introduced by Duterte to end local communist armed conflict.

Under this strategy is the implementation of E-CLIP where various government agencies deliver basic assistance to communist rebels who choose to surrender their guns.

The benefits include safety and security guarantees, immediate cash assistance worth P15,000; livelihood assistance worth P50,000; reintegration assistance worth P21,000; and firearms remuneration if they turn in their weapons.

The military chief said the security sector is contributing roughly 20 percent in the peace-building initiatives “since it is only confronting the armed component of the problem.”

He noted that eighty percent of the efforts come from other relevant government agencies, non-government institutions, and civil society organizations that address economic and socio-cultural aspects among others of the communist insurgency problem.

Sobejana expressed confidence that the insurgency will end by 2022 “because of the active participation and cooperation of the public.”

“Kung ano man ‘yung lumabas na problema na may effect sa security ng ating bansa, ito’y matutugunan dahil tayo ay sama-samang gumagalaw patungo sa ating objective – that is peace and progress (Whatever problem arises that has an effect to the security of our country, it will be addressed because we are working together to reach our objective — that is peace and progress),” the AFP Chief said.

Sobejana further believes that the public should be aware of the situation in the fight against local communist armed conflict since, he said, security is a shared responsibility.