Army holds talks with ex-rebels

NENENG, now 27 years old, was swayed to join the New People’s Army (NPA) at the age of 21.

No, she was not promised with the usual enticements such as monthly salary or a farmland for her family to till.

Instead, her decision was borne out of what she termed as “trip trip lang.”

“I frequently saw them in our village in Capiz. They just kept on telling us about the government’s inadequacies,” Neneng said in the vernacular.

But two years into the movement, she decided to lay down her arms. While the resolve to join the movement took hold for a while, it was easy for her to decide to abandon the armed struggle.

“I have to start a family. I don’t want to raise my child in the mountains where every day is uncertain,” she added.

As if living in the mountains was not difficult enough, Neneng said she was frequently besieged by the fear of getting caught.

Neneng summed up her days with the NPA in two words – exhaustion and hunger.

In 2014, she left the group with no intention of returning.

When she decided to go back to mainstream society, she availed of the government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP).

Under the program, the government will offer livelihood assistance amounting to P50,000 and immediate cash assistance of P15,000 to NPA members who would surrender including a remuneration for each firearm brought.

It also gave a re-integration package that includes livelihood and capacity development training.

Neneng was one of the 39 former rebels who participated in a dialogue called on by the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division on Monday, July 2, 2018.

The meeting happened at the 301st Infantry Brigade headquarters at Camp Adriano Hernandez in Dingle, Iloilo.

“Ito ay pagkakakita lamang na seryoso talaga ang ating gobyerno na matugunan ang problema ng insurgency dito sa ating bansa,” said Brigadier General Dinoh Dolina, 3ID commanding chief.

The 39 rebels surrendered between 2013 and 2017.

The Army command tried to get in touch with all other surrenderees but some of them are already working in Manila while others have changed their place of residence.

Of the 39 who attended, 25 ex-rebels yielded their arms during the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte.

“We want to sustain what the government has already started. We want to know their needs in order for them to live a productive life,” Dolina said.

Most of them wanted housing assistance.

Dolina said they would be integrated into the PAMANA.

The PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn or PAMANA is the national government’s convergence program that extends development interventions to isolated, hard-to-reach and conflict-affected communities, ensuring that they are not left behind.

A complementary track to peace negotiations, the program was anchored on the strategy of winning the peace by forging strategic partnerships with national agencies in promoting convergent delivery of goods and services and addressing regional development challenges in conflict-affected and vulnerable areas (CAAs/CVAs).

The design and delivery of PAMANA are conflict-sensitive and peace-promoting (CSPP) to avoid the recurrence of any source of conflict.

 

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