ISULAN, Sultan Kudarat — Gov. Pax Mangudadatu lauded the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion for “winning the hearts” of indigenous peoples who were duped into joining the communist movement but returned to the folds of the law.
“Congratulations, job well done, keep it up,” Mangudadatu, also chair of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) for SOCCSKSARGEN Region, told military officials, led by Lt. Colonel Harold Cabunoc.
Cabunoc presented to Mangudadatu some of the communist rebels who voluntarily surrendered to military authorities in Sultan Kudarat.
Cabunoc said the former communist rebels, mostly indigenous peoples, who operated in Sen. Ninoy Aquino in Sultan Kudarat received financial aid from the provincial government.
Mangudadatu chairs the CLIP (Comprehensive Local Integration Program) Committee and handed over PHP20,000 cash to each of the former rebels in exchange for the firearms they turned over to the Army.
“Start new life, use the funds for your livelihood, the local government will assist and help you how to use your money wisely,” Mangudadatu said in Filipino.
The governor said more cash incentives and livelihood assistance package are to be granted by the government through the CLIP.
Thirty two members of the communist Guerilla Front 73 have laid down their arms since May 2017, according to Cabunoc.
Cabunoc said the 33rd IB has combined civil support operations, combat operations, and information support affairs in winning the support of the people in conflict-affected areas.
“We will not stop until all the IPs, who were fooled by communist rebels to join their ranks and fight the government, will be enlightened and live normal lives,”
“The government is offering something good for you, consider it,”
“We are all Filipinos, we need to help each other,”
-Lt. Colonel Harold Cabunoc
Cabunoc urged other New Peoples’ Army members to consider returning to the mainstream because armed struggle is a lost cause.
Source: Edwin Fernandez, PNA