About 11 former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) have surrendered to government authorities together with their cache of firearms they used while fighting against government forces. The former rebels were presented to the members of the media on Monday(July 27)at Camp Ruperto Kangleon, the regional headquarters of the Philippine National Police(PNP). (ROEL T. AMAZONA)

CAMP RUPERTO KANGLEON, PALO, Leyte- After almost a decade fighting against the government, ‘Walik,’ 26, has decided to return to the folds of the law to live a normal life.
Last Monday (July 27), Walik was among the 11 former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who were presented to the media where they also formally surrendered their respective firearms which they used while they were active as rebels.
Based on the account of his mother, whose identity was withheld, Walik was only 16 years old when he was convinced to join the rebel group.
The mother said that she and her husband tried to convince their son to study instead of joining the NPA.
“His father was furious when we learned that he joined the NPA.He said our son has no future being in the rebel movement. We searched for him to convince him to return to our home,” Walik’s mother said.
The difficulties they encountered in the mountains was the main reason why he decided to give up the armed struggle, he said.
And now that he decided to leave the armed group, Walik, the second child among the brood of 10 children, said that he want to continue his studies and become a soldier, a dream of his father.
Eunice, the lone woman among the surrenderers, said she also get tired living in the mountains and fighting with government forces reason why she decided to surrender.
She was pregnant in 2007 when she and her husband decided to leave the communist group and live a normal life in her home town.
Since returning, they were able to raise their children properly and provide their needs including sending them to school.
Eunice added that her family had even received assistance from the government and is beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.
“My family is very thankful to the government for all the assistance that we have received,” she said.
Meanwhile, alias Edil, who hails from Eastern Samar, said that due to lack of education, those living in the hinterlands are easily convinced to join the communist group.
“But when I was already in the group, I noticed that the ideology that they taught us was not right because it also victimizes the innocent civilians. They are more on lip service, none of their promises came into reality,” he said.
The 11 NPA members voluntarily surrender to 1st Leyte Provincial Mobile Force Company Commander, Basey Municipal Police Station and to the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 8 Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP).
They also surrendered firearms and ammunition to the government forces.
“This is a defining moment for all of us as we just recently launched the RCSP in the province of Samar that is designed to become an important component in our fight against insurgency,” Police Regional Office 8 Regional Director B/Gen Bernabe Balba said.
“Just a week after its launching, significant accomplishment has been marked that connotes a positive impact to the community in attaining peace and development. I am very much delighted to note that I am positive enough that this prolonged adversity will now be addressed,” he added.
The 11 surrenderers who are now in the custody of government forces will undergo debriefing, and documentation and joint validation between the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines if they are facing criminal charges.
On top of the financial assistance, the former rebels received other assistance like livelihood worth P50,000, integration worth P21, 000, financial assistance worth P15,000, this aside from the monetary value of firearms that they surrender.