Through the Duterte administration’s “whole of nation” integration effort, a total of 18,433 former rebels from Communist Terror Groups (CTG), including 92 “kid soldiers,” have returned to the fold of the law and are now living regular lives.
At the weekly virtual press conference of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) on Monday, Maj. Gen. Ernesto C. Torres, commander of the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army (PA) in Southern Mindanao, said rebels are fleeing the communist movement in a “continuous trend,” as government measures have effectively exposed the useless revolution waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
According to Torres, government forces were able to reduce the number of communist guerrilla fronts from 23 to six from 2016. Renante Mantos a.k.a. ‘Nante’ and ‘Roy,’ the head of one guerrilla front in Davao del Norte, and Eddie Genelsa a.k.a. ‘Lando,’ ‘Pahak,’ ‘Brad,’ and ‘Jumbo,’ the commanding officer of a guerrilla front and even an NDF peace panel member in the Norway peace negotiations in 2016, are among the surrenderers.
He further claimed that government forces have shut down 82 CPP-NPA-NDF-run schools in Mindanao that “deceptively recruit young indigenous peoples (IPs).”
“They (schools) were already replaced by 35 DepEd accredited schools,” Torres said, adding that they’ve also recorded 92 “kid soldiers” who have surrendered and are now receiving government aid to help them become productive citizens.
Torres further revealed that the number of surrenderers reduced the “extortion income” of the CPP-NPA-NDF from P7 million to P1.2 million.
Previously, 402 barangays in the region declared the CTGs to be ‘persona non grata’ in their communities. These accomplishments have significantly reduced the number of encounters to only nine, compared to almost daily encounters in previous years.
He said the government’s efforts to “bring and give an chance to former rebels to earn for themselves” are part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s “whole of nation” approach to dealing with the communist insurgency.
The military’s job, according to Torres, is to connect former rebels with organizations backed by local chief executives and other government agencies, with the objective of “strengthening agri-based, tourism-based, and handcraft” livelihood programs.
On the other hand, Task Force Balik-Loob (TFBL) and Defense Undersecretary Reynaldo Mapagu claim that the implementation of Administrative Order No. 10’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) “to assist former rebels to get back in mainstream society after deciding to abandon their pointless organization” is an effective measure contributing to the massive surrender of CPP-NPA-NDF fighters, including the Abu Sayyaf Group bandits and other terror groups.
“Two hundred thirty nine former rebels were even given housing assistance, 9,188 were beneficiaries of the Department of Social Welfare and Development assistance, 1,845 given livelihood assistance by the Department of Trade and Industry, 9,103 were under TUPAD program of the Department of Labor and Employment, 21,549 were already trained through the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority including the former rebels dependents were given skills training,” Mapagu said.
Mapagu said E-CLIP is giving opportunity to former rebels to start a new life.
“Assistance is not a reward but rather as the country’s human capital, an opportunity that former rebels should develop for a better future,” he added.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the Philippines.