By Teofilo Garcia, Jr.
ZAMBOANGA CITY — Five New People’s Army (NPA) rebels have received cash assistance from the provincial government of Zamboanga del Norte, officials said Monday.
Each of the five NPA rebels received PHP20,000 or for a total of PHP100,000 cash assistance, which was released Saturday as part of the local peace initiatives of Zamboanga del Norte provincial government.
“The (cash) assistance is a good start for them to fully reintegrate (to the society) and live normally,” Zamboanga del Norte Gov. Roberto Uy said.
The five NPA rebels surrendered to the Army’s 97th Infantry Battalion in Manukan, Zamboanga del Norte on September 10.
The surrenderers turned over eight anti-tank improvised explosives, one Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) and one caliber.30 M1 Garand rifle.
Lt. Col. John Andrada, Army’s 97th Infantry Battalion commander, said each one of them is also entitled to receive financial assistance from the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) fund.
“Aside from the PHP65,000, they will also receive cash remunerations based on the firearms they’ve surrendered,” Andrada said.
Maj. Gen. Roberto Ancan, the Army’s 1st Infantry Division and Joint Task Force Zampelan (the Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao Provinces) commander, lauded Uy and the provincial government of Zamboanga del Norte for the cash aid given to the rebel returnees.
“The stern leadership of Gov. Uy and the initiative of LGU (Local Government Unit) of Zamboanga del Norte will entice more rebels in our area of responsibility to surrender,” Ancan said.
“We hoped that other provinces will replicate this kind of initiative to assist and encourage our FRs (former rebels) to return into the mainstream of society,” Ancan added. (PNA)