The number of rebel returnees in Negros Occidental rose to 74, with the recent surrender of seven more members of the New People’s Army, military records show.
Col. Oscar Lactao, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, yesterday said the majority of the rebel returnees have already availed of financial and livelihood assistance from the provincial government of Negros Occidental, andthe Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process.
The provincial government of Negros Occidental gave more than P700,000 financial and livelihood assistance to rebel returnees, to start a new life with their families.
This was on top of P50,000 livelihood assistance extended to them by OPPAP initially given to 28 rebels two months ago.
Lactao said the 303rd Infantry Brigade, in tandem with the provincial government, OPPAP and other government agencies, are now closely working with each other in addressing the needs of 96 conflict-affected communities in Negros Occidental.
Maj. Jose Mabanta, 3rd Infantry Division commander, in a statement, reiterated his call to those who are still waging the armed struggle to give peace a chance.
“We are sincere in our offer for peace, and we assure those who will come down of their security and personal safety. Together with the rest of our stakeholders, we will help them return to peaceful and normal lives, together with their loved ones.” Mabanta said.*GPB