Bukidnon allocates P3.46M for reintegration of former rebels

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/31 March) —  The provincial government of Bukidnon has shelled out P3.46 million for the reintegration of  former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who have surrendered since the start of the administration under Governor Alex Calingasan in July 2010.

Provincial administrator Provo Antipasado Jr. told MindaNews a total of 276 NPA members have surrendered since.

The latest batch of surrenderers came Thursday, the 43rd anniversary of the NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, he said.

Antipasado said the former rebels have been enrolled into the provincial livelihood program.

But Calingasan clarified the local livelihood assistance is not part of the national government’s integration program for former rebels. He said the provincial government is offering P30, 000 for each rebel who surrenders with a firearm and P5,000 for militiamen.

The provincial government recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) for the reintegration program.

The MOA includes assistance to those who surrendered during the previous administration but were unable to receive the assistance under the dissolved Social Integration Program.

Hansel Echavez, provincial livelihood officer, said social welfare officers will interview the returnees to identify their needs, which will become the basis for the OPAPP for the release of assistance.

According to a statement from the Provincial Public Information and Assistance on Friday, the 45 surrenderees belonged to three rebel units: 14 under the Mamerto Bagani Command in Northern Bukidnon who turned over 30 different firearms, including improvised explosive devices;  six other sled by Johnny Boy Andin-o or “Rebong” from the NPA’s Guerrilla Front 6, which the Army said operated in the hinterlands of San Fernando town (they surrendered an M16 rifle, two Garands, two Carbines, an improvised M14 and a .45 caliber pistol) and 11 others led by Rene Mansaylu-ay Dal-anay or “Taruc” who the military said, belonged to the Boyboy Roa Command in San Fernando town. The group was reported to have surrendered a Carbine rifle, a Garand, and several IEDs.

The surrender on March 29 was the biggest after Benjamin Salusad’s surrender last year.

Salusad, along with 79 other alleged NPA members surrendered to the 8th Infantry Battalion in Maramag town on Nov. 15. They turned in 25 high-powered firearms.

Only 31 of the rebel returnees were said to be full-time combatants and 49 were members of the Milisya ng Bayan (People’s Militia).
The provincial government said the former rebels received emergency and livelihood assistance and other benefits pursuant to Executive Order Number 152 or the Balik Baril Program signed on January 21, 1994. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)