BONTOC, Mountain Province – “Ako si __, bolontaryong dumulog sa mga myembro ng Mt Province TF ELCAC upang makiisa sa kanilang programa laban sa mga CPP-NPA-NDF. Ako ay buong katapatang nanunumpa sa Bansang Pilipinas at sa sambayanang Pilipino, na taos puso akong magbabalik loob sa ating gobyerno, susuporta sa Saligang Batas ng Pilipinas at magiging responsableng miyembro ng lipunan…” was the pledge of the seven (7) rebel surrenderees during the Presentation of Mass Surrender and Oath of Allegiance ceremony held at the MPPPO Compound, Bontoc, Mountain Province on February 18.
The Oath of Allegiance was administered by Executive Assistant Winston V. Calde who represented Governor Bonifacio C. Lacwasan, Jr. during the Mass Surrender Ceremony thru Retooled Community Support Program of Provincial Task Force to Empower Local Communities to Accelerate Change (PTF-ELCAC) of Mountain Province.
After the oath taking, the seven surrenderees handed over six (6) firearms to the government forces present during the ceremony.
The activity was witnessed by the officials and members of the Philippine Army (PA) and of the Mountain Province Provincial Police Office (MPPPO). Representatives from the Office of the Provincial Governor, Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, Provincial Information Office, Philippine Information Agency and GMA News were also in attendance to the activity.
“I am so thankful to God that he never failed to show and take me to a more meaningful and peaceful existence. He gave me hope for a beautiful life I once thought I could have by joining the leftists. I then pray for His continuous guidance as I continue to tread on this renewed path and promise to do my part for the government and to show active support to all its programs as well. Life is too short. Let us not make it shorter,” one returnee said in his testimonial message during the activity.
Also in his message, he expressed how the reality of freedom from strife actually is inside the group where he once belonged.
“I realized the fact nga nu adda ta iti kontran ti gobyerno, awan iti peace of mind, awan ti family bonding, awan ti clear participation with friends, ken lugi ta ta han ta makaraman ti ado nga inpaay ni Apo Diyos nga bendisyon na iti naduma duma a paset ti gobyerno. That is why I came to realize nga daytoy nga biyag ket sangkabitan lang gayam daytoy, ket nu haan ka makikadwa kadagitoy kakadwa ken dagitoy da turayen ti nasyon, ket lugi ta. And it is my prayer that my loving Lord may guide me to help build our nation peaceful so that everybody would enjoy and everybody would feel the presence of our gracious Lord and hopefully, this war would eventually be put to an end,” he added.
Aside from the province’s Rebel Returnee program and being a member of the Mountain Province’s PTF-ELCAC, the provincial government is in full support to government programs related to ending local communist and armed conflicts in the country.
In his message conveyed by Calde, Governor Lacwasan reiterated his appeal to those who have strayed from the mainstream of society to return and submit themselves into the government’s fold of the law.
“We welcome you. Let us live peacefully. If there is peace, there is progress. Napintas latta diyay peace and harmony. Makadwa yo ti pamilya yo, masuportaran yo ti panagskwela ti annak yo, makaatendar kayo ti kakasal, maatendaran yo dagiti minatay ti kakabagiyan yo, maka biyahe kayo pay iti sabali nga ili tapnu mapasyal yo ti kakabagiyan yo ken kinamang yo. Makaturog kayo ti 24 hours. Again, let me call on our brothers and sisters who were led astray to join us in making Montanyosa into a more progressive place to live in,” he added.
Likewise, in his message relayed by PLtCol Crisante Sadino, MPPPO Provincial Director Clarence C. Casilio expressed his appreciation for the participation and cooperation of the misguided brothers who decided to lay down their arms and abandon their arm struggle. With their decision to return back to the fold of the law, he said that they can at least enjoy a life free from fear.
“Nothing is more rewarding than to see the fruit of our efforts and sacrifice for the success of this program. We must take pride in this accomplishment because it mirrors our unity and dedication to seriously uphold and enable us to help our fellowmen who are manipulated by false ideology of being tunay na makabayan. Nevertheless, because of our stronghold, of our present administration, we still fight and hope for our misguided fellowmen to enjoy the true essence of freedom which led to the creation of the E-CLIP. Nonetheless, we can also say that this incident is a manifestation of the effectiveness of EO 70…This is just a beginning of our ordeal towards lasting peace and order, let us continue to work hand in hand as partners of the government in the implementation of our E-CLIP…”, he further stated.
Meanwhile, during the activity, as implementors of the E-CLIP program, LTC Narciso Nabulneg Jr., 54IB Philippine Army Commander presented a comprehensive information on anti-insurgency in Ifugao and in Vizcaya provinces. The presentation displayed some details on the successive mass surrenders, significant events and recovered, captured/rescued and surrendered items in the past two years. Per his report, a total of 205 surrenderees and 28 firearms were surrendered from the provinces of Nueva Viscaya, Ifugao and Mountain Province.
In relation to this, six surrenderers from eastern Mountain Province, one from Paracelis and five from Natonin were awarded with E-CLIP benefits by the DILG. All six surrenderers received an immediate assistance of P15,000 each while one received an additional firearm renumeration of P80,000 and the other one received an addition of P50,000 firearm renumeration and P50,000 livelihood assistance.
According to the DILG, the other five surrenders are undergoing the required assessment and evaluation before receiving their respective livelihood assistance.
The turn-over of E-CLIP benefits were witnessed by some members of Provincial Peace and Order Council.
By Imelda U. Sawi