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Rebel returnees want quiet life

FORMER MEMBERS  of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) on Wednesday said they wanted to live a quiet life.

Alias “Aguila”, 51, from Calinog; and alias “Baby”, 33, of Tubungan, Iloilo surrendered to the Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion on July 19.

“I want to be at peace, to live peacefully,” Aguila said in the vernacular during a press conference at Camp Delgado here.

Aguila served as a team leader of the CPP-NPA’s Special Partisan Unit (SPARU), Komiteng Rehiyon-Panay and had served the rebel movement for about 30 years.

“I was swayed by their (rebel) propaganda,” he said, adding that what he experienced in the movement was contrary to what he expected.

Aguila was involved in “agaw-armas” activities of the rebels in Panay area, noting he was in charge in snatching firearms from police officers.

The CPP-NPA has promised to provide his salary in exchange for his services but “I have not received any money,” he said.

“I said that if that if that is the situation, it is of no use and it is better to leave the mountains,” he said.

Meanwhile, “Baby” echoed Aguila’s sentiments, saying being rebels is not a peaceful one “because we have enemies.”

Baby served as a political guide and medical officer of Squad 2, Suyak Platoon, Southern Front, Komiteng Rehiyon-Panay and had served the rebel movement for five years.

“I organized people in my area,” she said, adding that she also part of the rebel recruitment.

Unlike Aguila, Baby was not promised with salary but she joined the CPP-NPA because of the “their propaganda against the government.”

Aguila yielded Colt Rifle with serial number 9014574; a cap magazine of 5.56 mm; five rounds of live ammunition of 5.56mm, and a vintage rifle with 10 rounds of 7.62 ammunitions while Baby yielded US Springfield 30 caliber rifle; 18 rounds of live ammunitions of 30 caliber; a 38 caliber pistol; six rounds of live ammunition; three rounds of empty shell of 40mm, and subversive documents with high intelligence value.

In the same press conference, Lt. Col Joel Benedict Batara, commander of the Philippine Army’s 61st IB, said the surrender of the two will encourage the surrender of more CPP-NPA.

“They are just waiting for the right timing,” Batara said.

He said the local government unit has also helped in the surrender of the rebels, especially the anti-insurgency efforts in the village level.

Batara noted that the two NPA officers’ surrender is a manifestation that the CPP-NPA is a “dying bogus” organization.

“They are masking themselves as freedom fighters, as peace advocates and human right protectors but they are first to violate human rights,” he said.

Since the implementation of the Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) in 2016, the number of CPP-NPA who surrendered in Panay island has already reached 137.

Batara said both Aguila and Baby will receive PHP15, 000 immediate assistance; PHP50, 000 livelihood assistance and firearm remunerations for their surrendered firearms.

Of the total number, 21 has surrendered in 2016; three in 2017; 66 in 2018; and 47 in 2019.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (By Gail Momblan)

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