May 28, 2024

LAGANGILANG, Abra – More members and supporters of the New Peoples’ Army rebels are voluntarily abandoning the armed struggle.

Eighteen former rebels are undergoing a 10-day deradicalization process at the newly opened “Balay Nalinak” (halfway house) at the headquarters of the 24th Infantry Wildcat Battalion (IB) here.

Deradicalization is a part of the processes of the Enhanced Comprehensive Integration Program (Eclip) to prepare the former rebels for their reintegration to society.

Ten of the former rebels are from Tubo, two are from Malibcong, three from Sallapadan, and are three from Lacub. Two of them are females.

They belonged to the NPA’s Komiteng Larangang Guerilla -Abra-Mountain Province-Ilocos Sur (KLG-AMPIS) and KLG North Abra operating in the boundaries of Ilocos Sur, Mountain Province, Abra, and Kalinga.

 Gov. Joy Bernos along with Department of the Interior and Local Government-Abra Provincial Director Millicent Cariño; 7th Infantry Division Commander, B/Gen. Andrew Costelo; Abra Police Provincial Office Director, Col. Christopher Acop; 24th IB Commanding Officer Ricardo Gary Garcia; Malibcong Mayor Romando Bacuyag; and Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer Myrna Bersalona welcomed the former rebels during the opening program.

“We welcome you back in our own community and may your voluntary decisions give you a fresh start to get back to your families,” Bernos said.

“Jess”, one of the former rebels from Malibcong, said he decided to lay down his arms after he realized the hardship of life in the mountains.

Na-realize ko kasi na mas marami ang opportunities ko kapag bumalik ako sa normal na pamumuhay. Hindi ko na rin kaya ang kahirapan ng buhay namin doon sa bundok kaya sumuko ako sa ating gobyerno,” he said.

He called on his friends who are still with the NPA to surrender so they could enjoy living a normal life.  – Christian Tubadeza