TACLOBAN CITY– Two former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and 68 of their supporters and militia members received financial assistance from the city government of Borongan, Eastern Samar.

The financial assistance granted to the beneficiaries by the city government was under its local social integration program (LSIP), a program designed to encourage NPA rebels, members of their front organizations, and supporters to return to the fold of the law.

The two former rebels each received P50,000 while the rest of the beneficiaries got P10,000 each during a simple ceremony held on Tuesday (Sept.5) at the headquarters of the 78th Infantry Battalion, based in Borongan City.

The beneficiaries were from the remote village of San Andres. It was learned that the two rebels together with the members of the militia groups and their sympathizers returned to the fold of the law on August 19, this year.

Mayor Jose Ivan Dayan Agda said that he hoped that those who surrendered and took allegiance to the government would no longer return to the outlawed communist group and start a new and normal life instead.

“Since you are already here and have returned to the fold of the government, I hope you won’t go back to being a rebel because the government is working hard so we can fulfill our duty which is to provide a fair service for you,” he said.

B/Gen. Noel Vestuir, the commanding officer of the 802nd Infantry Brigade, encouraged the villagers, especially those in the far-flung barangays, not to support the communist armed group and help those in the armed group to rejoin them instead.

“Let us be united in transforming the remaining conflict-affected and underdeveloped areas into zones of peace, development, and prosperity composed of communities that are inhospitable to the remaining NPAs who remain hostile to the desire for a life of peace and harmony,” he said.

For his part, Lt. Col. Allan Tria, the commanding officer of the 78th IB, urged the beneficiaries to put into good use the financial assistance extended to them by the government.

“I hope that you will put into good use the financial assistance extended to you by the city government. We will try to persuade other departments of our government to give you more help,” he said. (JOEY A. GABIETA)