By Mike Crismundo
KITCHARAO, Agusan del Norte – Four heavily armed members of New People’s Army (NPA) voluntarily surrendered to government authorities while 100 of their mass-based supporters also voluntarily took their oath of allegiance publicly during the peace caravan jointly conducted by the Army’s 29th Infantry Battalion (29th IB) and provincial government of Agusan del Norte here on Wednesday.
Capt. Joe Patrick A. Martinez, Regional Army spokesperson, told The Manila Bulletin that the four alleged NPA regulars, who brought along with them their high powered weapons and ammunitions, were given financial assistance for their surrendered firearms and for their livelihood.
The surrenderees were given 360,000 pesos cash as financial assistance for the surrendered firearms while the livelihood assistance equivalent to 250,000 pesos will be processed under the Comprehensive Local Integration Program of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), he said.
Twenty sacks of rice and 100 food packs were also distributed to the mass-base supporters who took their oath, Capt. Martinez said.
He added that the surrenderees belong to the CPP-NPA Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee.
The mass based supporters came from the conflict-affected areas of Barangays Canaway, Jaliobing, San Roque, Mahayahay and Zapanta, all of Kitcharao town, Agusan del Norte province.
Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Glenn Joy U. Aynera, commanding officer of the 29th IB said the success of the peace caravan was also a joint effort of the officials of the provincial government led by Gov. Ma. Angelica Rosedell M. Amante-Matba and officials from various concerned line agencies of the government.
“The success of the peace caravan is the midterm result of the ongoing Community Support Program (CSP) to the six affected Barangays in the municipality of Kitcharao and also a joint effort of the Agusan del Norte Oversight and Advisory Committee (ADNOAC),” he added.
“The caravan served as a venue to strengthen the convergence of government agencies as they deliver the basic services to the community especially the Indigenous People (IPs) in the conflict affected areas,” said Brig. Gen. Franco Nemesio M. Gacal, commanding officer of the Army’s 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade.
He added: “It is also a platform for information campaign and advocacy to disseminate and deliver government program/projects that eventually answer the issues being exploited by the NPA terrorists”.
Around 2,500 persons also benefited from the free medical services and medicines during the peace caravan on Wednesday.
“To all Filipinos to whom we dedicate our service, we understand how conflict restricts the delivery of even the most basic services to our communities. The service caravans ensure that development interventions reach every corner of Caraga region and Northern Mindanao region. We likewise enjoin everyone to commit our ‘Bayanihan’ efforts in order for us to better achieve our vision of having a peaceful community that will soon to be ready for further development,” said Maj. Gen. Ronald C. Villanueva, commanding general of the Army’s Northeastern and Northern Mindanao 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division.
He added: “Likewise, we are thankful indeed that four NPA members heeded our the call for unity. Let me share your happiness with all the people who also believe in our advocacy for peace and to the remaining NPAs in our pursuit to improve every Filipino’s lot in the spirit of Bayanihan and Kapayapaan.”
Tags: 4 NPA members surrender get cash and livelihood assistance, Agusan del Norte, Army’s 29th Infantry Battalion, financial assistance, livelihood assistance, Manila Bulletin, NPA, oath of allegiance, peace caravan, The Manila Bulletin