Año to rebels: Lay down arms, gov’t will not abandon you
MANILA, Philippines – Interior Secretary Eduardo Año again called on members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) to lay down their arms, saying government will not abandon them unlike the NPA.
“The government will never abandon you as they [communists] did,” Año said in a statement on Friday. “That is the harsh truth. Walang pakialam ang NPA sa kapakanan ng kanilang mga miyembro.”
“They are just mere dispensable pawns in the CPP-NPA-NDF’s senseless advocacy to overthrow the government through armed struggle. Sa pagbabalik ninyo sa inyong mga pamilya, nakatitiyak kayo na hindi kayo pababayaan ng ating pamahalaan,” he added.
Año made the pitch again after alleged former NPA rebels were presented in the Senate, testifying that they were operating as students by day and fighters by night. One member, identified as “Alem,” claimed she was abandoned by the group even when she was about to give birth.
The supposed NPA members also claimed they were recruited through leftist groups posing as legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
“These stories only substantiate NPA’s deceitfulness and lies. Mga estudyante pa lamang ang mga ito nung na-recruit nila, sinira nila ang kinabukasan,” Año said.
“Now that they decide to return to the fold of the law, we will guarantee that they will not feel abandoned,” he added.
Año recently called for the revival of Republic Act 1700 or the Anti-Subversion Act, which would outlaw membership to the CPP. This was aimed at curbing reported incidents of children being recruited as fighters by the NPA.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo added that the Communist Party of the Philippines, the NPA, and the National Democratic Front cannot be treated different from each other.
According to Año, government programs like the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) are in place to assure that NPA fighters who will surrender and abandon the armed struggle will be taken care of.
“Under the E-CLIP grant, FRs (former rebels) or their qualified beneficiaries are entitled to benefits ranging from guaranteed safety and security; monetary assistance such as a P50,000 as livelihood assistance, P21,000 for meals cost as FR is in the custody of Receiving Unit and other expenses, and P15,000 per FR for mobilization expenses; and firearms remuneration amounting to the value of turned-in firearms, among others,” DILG said.
He also noted that they have asked for a P121 million fund specifically for E-CLIP in 2020, just to encourage rebels to return to the government’s fold.
“We are allotting millions of pesos for our FRs for we believe in reconciliation and redemption. Itong mga dating rebelde na ito ay naghahangad lang na bumawi at bawiin ang dati nilang mga buhay bago ito sirain ng NPA,” he explained.
DILG claimed that 1,939 FRs were given financial assistance worth P29 million; 1,433 got P71.6 million in livelihood assistance, 1,714 obtained reintegration assistance amounting to P35.9 million, while 407 received P28.9 million by returning weapons used by the NPA. /muf