TACLOBAN CITY – At least 158 former rebels in Northern Samar have completed the reintegration program inside a residential facility built by the provincial government.
Since its opening in 2019, the facility has been helping former rebels rebuild their lives shattered by years of armed rebellion, said Northern Samar provincial information officer John Allen Berbon.

“Former rebels, which we call now peacebuilders undergo social healing, reconciliation, and spiritual enhancement sessions at the Balay Darangpan (shelter) for five to six months to prepare them for reintegration back to the mainstream community,” said Berbon on a phone interview Thursday.

Of the number assisted, 131 of them entered the facility in 2022 while others enrolled this year.

The Balay Darangpan halfway house is inside the provincial social welfare and development office compound in Catarman, Northern Samar.

Before admission, the peacebuilders attended an orientation on the center’s rules and regulations and were introduced to the peace-related policies and programs of the provincial government and its partner agencies under the provincial task force to end the local communist armed conflict (PTF-ELCAC) and the provincial task force balik loob (PTF-BL), which adopts the whole of nation approach to peace and development.

“The continuous operation of Balay Darangpan stands as a testament to the support of the provincial Government, the PTF-BL, PTF-ELCAC chaired by Governor Edwin Ongchuan, in cooperation with other stakeholders, in ending local insurgency in the province,” Berbon added.

Northern Samar is the most insurgency-affected province in Eastern Visayas, where two active NPA guerilla fronts operate.

The military said although front committees 1 and 15 are still active, they do not control any village in Northern Samar.

Front Committee 2, which used to operate on the boundary of Samar and Northern Samar, has been dismantled this year after the capture and surrender of some of its combatants and the recovery of several firearms.

The NPA front committee 3, which operates near the boundaries of Northern Samar and Eastern Samar provinces, has also been weakened after the series of operations by government forces.

The Philippine Army targets to wipe out insurgency in Northern Samar before the year ends. (PNA)