By: Jennifer P. Rendon
TWO members of the New People’s Army (NPA) voluntarily surrendered to the Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion on June 6, 2019.
Reynel Baybado Braga (alias MJ/Niño), 21, of Barangay Santiago, Barotac Viejo, Iloilo; and Allyn Rose Romero Diaz, (alias Princess, Joy, or Niña), 20, of Barangay Datagan, Calinog, Iloilo yielded to the 61st IB’s Charlie Company, according to Vice Mayor Renato Casinao of Calinog.
Braga used to be the team leader of Squad 1 while Diaz is a medical officer of Squad 2 of the NPA’s Komiteng Rehiyon Panay (KRP)-Front 13.
The two allegedly yielded following localized negotiation efforts by authorities.
Braga and Diaz cited hardships and hunger on why they decided to leave the underground movement.
They went AWOL (absent without leave) from the rebel group in May 2019.
“We were just looking for a chance to surrender because we want to live a peaceful life and create a life away from the armed struggle. We realized that fighting against the government will bring no peace but to our graves,” Braga said.
Emotional, Braga recounted the sufferings he had to go through with the rebel group.
“Joining the NPA did nothing good to my life and I regret every bit of my decision,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Col. Joel Benedict Batara, 61st IB commander, said he was elated with the duo’s decision to leave the rebel group.
Batara also assured that their documents will be processed for their inclusion as beneficiaries of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) for them to be able to avail of the maximum benefits due them.
“We just hope that more of their comrades will follow their lead and choose to live a peaceful life,” Batara said.
He said that the influx of surrenderees is a clear manifestation that the NPA rebels have disintegrated.
“We know this based on the testimonies of the former rebels that most of their comrades are now planning to surrender and are just waiting for that opportune time to break away from their group,” he said.
Batara hoped that they would realize that they are fighting a useless cause.
Meanwhile, Major Gen.Dinoh Dolina, 3ID commander, reiterated his call to the members of the CPP-NPA to abandon the armed struggle, return to the folds of the law, and be back to mainstream society.
“We are continuing our local peace talks so that more communist members will hear us. I am confident that they will heed our call and we are once again reaching out to NPA members and avail of the E-CLIP while they still can,” he said.
Dolina further said, “the more you resist and go against the government, the more you put yourselves in danger by pushing away your chances of living a peaceful and meaningful life.”
The E-CLIP is a program of the government for those members of the NPA who will return to the folds of the law. The program includes financial assistance of up to 65,000 pesos, free housing, and free education among others. A reintegration process will also take place which will prepare them in their return to the community and live peacefully together with their families.