Rebel returnees hail gov’ts counter-insurgency programs

MABINI—Twenty-six former members of the Revolutionary Hukbong Bayan (RHB) and supporters of the CPP-NPA from Barangay Barlo in Mabini town, a former threatened area, who surrendered to the government have since become productive members of their communities.

The former rebels who were processed and validated, commended the efforts of the national government in reaching out to them with different government services, livelihood programs, and encourage other rebels to return to denounce insurgency.

According to P/Col. Redrico Maranan, provincial PNP Director, the surrender and transformation program of the government is working even if it took 4 months to process the validation of the rebel-returnees.

The negotiations and validation began with the inter-agency approach of the AFP and the PNP last July this year.

“This is what we have been looking for the government to do. The government now has a clear direction under President Rodrigo Duterte,” said Romulo Manzano, a former rebel now the president of the Barlo Farmer’s Association here, said in Pilipino on Wednesday and urged their former colleagues to surrender as well.

Manzano has asked the government to grant them individual land titles under the agrarian reform program to complete their assistance package.

In a turn-over ceremony held on Wednesday at the town plaza here, the rebel-returnees received farm machineries or equipment and farm implements from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Ilocos regional office; food packs from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, among others.

Technical Skills and Development Authority will also provide skills training while the PhilHealth enrolled them as beneficiaries; the Philippine Postal Corporation provided identification card for them; and the provincial government provided P1 million worth of agricultural package and scholarships for the former rebels’ children.

“This is just the first batch of rebel-returnees to receive support and services from the government,” Maranan said.

The Pangasinan Police Provincial Office and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (702nd Infantry Brigade) closely guarding the boundaries of Pangasinan-Nueva Ecija and Nueva Viscaya and Pangasinan-Zambales, will continue to provide assistance to rebel-returnees. (Helen Martin /Nora Dominguez)

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