June 22, 2024

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Spending eight years of his young life in the mountains always on the run from government military forces, a young New People’s Army fighter decided to go home and change his life for the better.
“I am taking up ALS (alternative learning system) to become a driver mechanic,” said “Carlo”, 26, who joined the NPA when he was 18 years old.
He said he tried to take the government’s offer to people like him, an NPA rebel fighter, in exchange for laying down his firearm.
Carlo said he first learned of the program of the government when he heard his comrades at the mountains talking about it.
“They said the government is doing something to deceive (us),” he said.
While he had second thoughts and was afraid, he decided to take his chance and avail of the government program despite claims it was just a deception.
“I surrendered while I’m still young and still have time to fix my life, unlike the others who grew old in the mountains hiding and always running away,” he said.
He said it was worth the try, considering the many years he spent enduring of hardship and without a future to look forward to.
For coming out and returning to the folds of the law in 2020, he received an initial P15,000 from the government.
Last week, he received a check for the firearm remuneration worth P86,000 and livelihood assistance of P50,000, which is aside from the scholarship grant provided by the government that will prepare him for his livelihood activity.
Carlo said he intends to use the money to start a business related to the course he is taking.
“I am taking ALS and I want to finish it because looking at my age, I think I have wasted so much and, hopefully this will give me a good life,” he said.
Carlo described his life for eight years in the mountains, with the NPAs as “not easy, tiring, and full of sleepless nights.”
He said he regretted joining because he achieved nothing and it was “overly tiring.”
“I was young and enthusiastic, I was just enjoying and I did not know what was in store for me but I was always with them when I was in the province and in the city. I was recruited in Baguio,” Carlo said.
He urged the youth not to be deceived into joining the communist movement.
“Listen to my story and I am telling you, it is difficult to go there,” he said.
When Carlo received the check from Benguet Gov. Melchor Diclas, he was with a woman, a former Militia ng Bayan who also opted to return to the fold of the law and also received firearm remuneration. – PNA