NEGROS ORIENTAL (PIA) – As four more former rebels surrender to government forces and decide to go back to mainstream society, the Philippine Army based in Negros Oriental is more hopeful that the province can attain an insurgency-free status.
“It has always been a target to make Negros Oriental insurgency-free,” said Col. Allan Martin, Brigade Commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army.
Col. Martin did not deny that there are still some rebels operating in Negros Oriental, but he hopes that they will choose to abandon armed struggle and return to mainstream society.
Col. Martin, together with Lt. Col. Harold Pascua, commander of the army’s 79th Infantry Battalion based in Siaton town presented to Gov. Roel Degamo the four former members of NPA at his office inside the Provincial Capitol recently.
According to Col. Martin, the four former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered because they saw the government programs effectively carried out in the hinterlands.
Aside from this, they also got tired of the hard life in the mountains, he added.
Gov. Degamo thanked the former rebels for voluntarily turning themselves to government forces and assured that the provincial government will provide them with livelihood assistance.
The governor considers this as a welcome development to the provincial government and Philippine Army’s peace initiatives and an indication that people in the hinterlands are recognizing the government’s seriousness in bringing programs in their areas.
On the other hand, Lt. Col. Pascua said there are still a lot of parameters to consider before Negros Oriental can be declared as insurgency free but the surrender of these former rebels can be a manifestation that the province can achieve the said peace and order status.
“Their decision to voluntary to join the mainstream society is a manifestation that achieving a insurgency free status for Negros Oriental is not far from reality,” Lt. Col. Pascua disclosed.
Pascua noted there is a growing confidence from the public to local law enforcement agencies and local defense systems are very capable and responsive to the needs of the community.
He cited as an example the close coordination between residents of Brgy. Talalak in Siaton town the officers of the 79th IB where residents of the barangay go to the army detachment and personally report any untoward incident happening in their area. (rmn/ral/PIA7-Negros Oriental/This article was first published at PIA Website on June 25, 2015)