PNP welcomes surrender of 20 NPA rebels in Laguna

A total of 20 New People’s Army (NPA) rebels have surrendered to the police in Laguna, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said Monday.

Upon their surrender, Albayalde said the rebels turned in several high-powered firearms and various grenade projectiles.

“We welcome the return of 20 members of the communist New People’s Army, some belonging to the indigenous people’s tribe in Southern Tagalog region who surrendered over the weekend in Kalayaan, Laguna,” Albayalde told reporters during a press conference in Quezon City.

“They now enjoy the state-guaranteed liberty to lead normal lives with their families and possibly benefit from the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP),” he said.

Albayalde said President Rodrigo R. Duterte has vowed to provide members of the communist armed group housing and livelihood once they surrender and return to the government’s fold.

He said rebels who surrendered their firearms are also given the cash equivalent of their weapons.

“Yung mga firearms hindi bumababa na (The firearms are exchanged with cash not less than) PHP100,000 and… the Governor of Laguna also pledged an additional PHP15,000 each for all the surrenderers,” he said, adding the former rebels also get a minimum of PHP50,000 for their livelihood.

During the former rebels’ presentation to members of the media, one of them, identified only as Ka Ruben, alleged that university students are being forced and threatened to join the communist movement.

“’Yun po ang ginagawa nila, takutin at hindi na pinababalik ang mga tao sa bayan (That’s what they’re doing. They’re coercing them and would not let these students to return to the towns),” Ka Ruben told reporters.

Calabarzon regional police director Chief Supt. Edward Carranza, meanwhile, said the students are visiting mountainous areas — the lairs of the NPA — where they would do their immersion activities.

Most of these students, however, no longer return from the mountains as they have been already forced to join the armed wing of the communist movement. (PNA/Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)