Government and military officials in Negros Oriental yesterday assured rebel returnees of the sincerity of government in helping them start fresh outside the New People’s Army.

Gov. Roel Degamo and Brig. Gen. Francisco Patrimonio, commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army in Negros Oriental, led the distribution of cash assistance of P3,000 each to four former NPA members from Guihulngan, Negros Oriental.

They are Danny Boy Sombilon Encabo of Barangay Tacpao; Jemmar Cañete Visor, Sitio Titip Dako, Brgy. Sandayao; Oliver Callora Villahermosa, Batayan, Brgy. Tacpao; and Morita Bayato Barino, of Binobohona.

All are from Guihulngan City, and are former members of the NPA Larangan Guerilla 1 operating in northern Negros Oriental until their surrender to the military last year.

They are the first batch of returnees in the province to receive financial assistance from the provincial government for 2014, Provincial Social Welfare officer Alice Legarde said. Last year, 27 former rebels received similar assistance from the government, she added.

Legarde said the four are also qualified to receive P65,000 each from the national government, through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, once all requirements and documents have been submitted and approved.

It is comprised of P50,000 worth of livelihood assistance after the training of the rebel returnee, and P15,000 in emergency aid, she added.

Degamo stressed the importance of attaining true and lasting peace, and genuine development, by freeing the province from the clutches of the decades-long insurgency problem. He said the provincial government will continue to deliver basic services and infrastructure and development projects in areas vulnerable to insurgency.

Barino, 35, married, admitted that she was an ‘amazon’, or lady fighter of the NPA, for three years. The rebel returnees thanked Degamo and the Philippine Army for facilitating their surrender, for taking care of them during the transition period, and assisting in the processing of their financial aid.

Patrimonio urged other rebels to go back to the folds of the law. He echoed the governor’s statement that the war against insurgency cannot be won solely by combat operations.*JFP