Philippines: Gov't lures rebels with cash for guns

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Roxas City (21 October) -- Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Hermogenes C. Esperon Jr. said that the government will pay P50,000 for every M-16 assault rifle turned over by a New People's Army (NPA) rebel returnee.

The amount was raised by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from the previous P18,000 to entice the remaining 5,000-strong NPA guerillas to return to the fold of the law with their firearms and live a normal life.

Esperon stressed in a OPAPP online news that the amount is in addition to the P20,000 immediate cash assistance an NPA rebel returnee would get on top of the P50,000 livelihood assistance program to extended by the government.

"That means a rebel returnee stands to receive a whooping sum of P120,000 if he brings with him an M-16 and yield them to authorities," Esperon said, adding that "the amount is more than enough for a former rebel to start his or her own small business."

The NPA is the armed unit of the underground Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been waging a Maoist rebellion since 1969.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has successfully cut down the number of NPA guerillas from a high of 26,800 in 1986 to a low of about 5,000 at the end of June 2008.

The government has envisioned of taming the insurgency problem by 2010 when President Arroyo steps down.

President Arroyo has implemented its administration's Social Integration Program to reintegrate former rebels into the mainstream of society pursuant to Administrative Order No. 172 last March 2007.

It involves a process whereby communist rebels who have returned to the fold of the law are provided a set of interventions to facilitate their integration into society. (OPAPP/PIA)