GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/01 October) – Three alleged members of a New People’s Army (NPA) unit operating in the hinterlands of Lake Sebu town in South Cotabato have surrendered to government forces following a series of negotiations.
Lt. Col. Alexis Noel Bravo, commander of the 27th Infantry Battalion, said Monday the rebels decided to surrender mainly due to their “difficult situation in the mountains and uncertainty of their cause.”
He identified the returnees as Lumbin Malon Lumbay, Adong Lumbay and certain Jimboy, who reportedly belonged to the NPA’s Guerrilla Front 73.
Their surrender was finalized several days ago through negotiations initiated by village officials and former comrades who have earlier yielded, he said.
Bravo said Adong was an organizer of the rebel unit and had worked with local farmers in Lake Sebu while Jimboy, who yielded an M16 Armalite rifle, was a member of squad 2 of Front 73’s second platoon.
He said the three were part of the NPA unit that figured in series of encounters with their troops last July in Barangay Colongulo in Surallah town.
“The negotiations with their other comrades are currently ongoing so we expect more of them to come out in the coming weeks,” Bravo said.
Citing accounts from the returnees, the official said they were earlier lured into joining the group due to false hopes regarding their cause and promises of monetary compensation and other benefits.
He said rebel leaders in the area supposedly dangled a monthly pay of P5,000 and a sack of rice per month for their families.
“It turned out that they were just promises so they became disillusioned and eventually demoralized,” he said.
Bravo said the returnees initially received relief and financial assistance from the local governments in the area and other government agencies.
He said their unit would enlist them as beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).
Under the CLIP, he said the beneficiaries may receive livelihood grants in the form of farm animals, agricultural machineries, motorcycles and other items that they may use in pursuing their chosen ventures or projects.
In South Cotabato province, Bravo said they are currently organizing the returnees so they can avail of bigger grants from CLIP.
Since January, he said 30 NPA rebels have already surrendered and eventually signed up with the national government’s reconciliation and integration programs.
The returnees yielded 12 high-powered firearms and an explosive, he added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)