TACLOBAN CITY-At least 15 former New People’s Army (NPAs) and six militia members in Eastern Samar received financial assistance from the local government and the military on Wednesday(Dec.13).

The surrender of the rebels and militia members was made under the provincial and city’s task forces to end local communist armed conflict(ELCAC) and FReE (friends rescued engagement through families) conceptualized by the provincial government to encourage NPA members to surrender and return to the fold of the law.

The 15 former rebels each received P50,000 while the six militia members each received P10,000.

Borongan City Mayor Jose Ivan Dayan Agda, who was among those present during the ceremony held inside the 78th Infantry Battalion which is based in the city, assured the former rebels and militia members of the assistance of the city government.

Of the 21 rehabilitated rebels and militia members, 19 of them were from Borongan City while the rest were from neighboring towns.

B/Gen. Noel Vestuir, the commanding officer of the 802nd Infantry Brigade, also based in Borongan City, lauded the efforts of the city government in the campaign against insurgency.

“The efforts and commitment of the Borongan City Task Force ELCAC headed by Mayor Jose Dayan Agda have greatly influenced the former rebels to abandon their armed struggle and return to their families. As we continue to implement our localized peace engagement activities, I am optimistic that we could still convince the remaining NPA members hiding in the mountains to come down in the coming days,” the Army official said.

He then urged those still active rebels to lay down their arms and return to the fold of the law as he promised that they could avail all the programs of the government they are entitled with.

“Abandoning the armed struggle is the greatest gift you could give to yourself and your family this Christmas season. We in the Philippine Army share with you, your happiness of being reunited with your families and we are always here to help you as you start anew in rebuilding your lives,” Vestuir said.