ZAMBOANGA del Norte, Dec 11 (PIA) – The third and final Localized Peace Engagement (LPE) in Zamboanga Peninsula resulted to 53 rebels surrendered and willing to be part of the government once again.
National Intelligence Coordinating Agency Regional Director Ariel Perlado emphasized the effectiveness of LPEs, adding that these make the founder of Communist Party Jose Maria Sison irrelevant.
“In the local level we have already made interventions through the Regional Task Force,” he said.
The 53 New People’s Army (NPA) combatants formalized their surrender and turned over their high-powered firearms during the peace negotiation held in Dipolog City on Tuesday (December 10).
The Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) in Region 9 has been very aggressive in pursuing the LPE as one of the most effective means to encourage more NPA members to consider returning to mainstream society.
Department of Social Welfare and Development Undersecretary Rene Glen Paje urged the surrenderees to encourage their former comrades to also lay down their arms and work with the government to attain sustainable development.
Ai-Ai, one of the surrenderees, shared their difficult lives and struggles while isolated in the uplands, and clarified that she was not forced to surrender by the government.
“We were not forced by the government, we surrender voluntarily,” Ai-Ai said. She added that after they surrendered, they were made comfortable and were given immediate support by the government.
Perlado affirms that they are securing the safety of the surrenderees in the process of their reintegration. The RTF-ELCAC 9 will continue the interventions and support to the rebel returnees.
LPEs in the region will continue, Perlado added as this has been shown to be effective in talking with the communists and addressing their concerns through the programs of local governments as supported by other government agencies.
Zamboanga del Norte Governor Roberto Uy highlighted the support of the provincial government to the RTF-ELCAC which he recognizes to play an important role in the peace process. “The peace engagement aims to improve the lives of people, and we are here (the government) to come united with the people (former rebels) who have finally come to join us again,” he said. (NBEMLE/PIA9-Zamboanga City)