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Army provides counseling for families of NPA rebels in Eastern Samar

Twenty-nine family members of 19 active NPA members in Eastern Samar received psychosocial support from the 802nd Infantry (Peerless) Brigade of the Philippine Army on October 4  at Harayupan Covered Court, Brgy. Campesao, Borongan City.

In coordination with the Eastern Samar Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC), the army launched the Friends Rescued Engagement through their Families (FReE Families) project which aims to help the families of active NPA members in Eastern Samar overcome the anxiety caused by the continued membership of their relatives in the NPA.

Witnessed by military and police officials and Eastern Samar TF-ELCAC, the initiative is a part of the task force’s intensified efforts to combat communist insurgency in Eastern Samar, employing a whole-of-government approach.

Love from Families

802nd Infantry (Peerless) Brigade commander Brig. Gen. Noel Vestuir shared that TF-ELCAC, chaired by Eastern Samar Gov. Ben P. Evardone, believed that love from families is a key to ending insurgency because it can erase the hatred planted by the misguided ideology of the CPP-NPA in the hearts of their loved ones.

BGen. Noel Vestuir of the 802nd Infantry Brigade engages with the families of active NPA rebels during the launching of the Friends Rescued Engagement through their Families (FReE Families) project on October 4 at the Harayupan Covered Court, Brgy. Campesao, Borongan City. (Photo courtesy of 802nd IB)

He also revealed that after just a week of implementation, the FReE Families program, initially launched in Samar on September 19, led to the surrender of two rebels in the province, one of whom was an NPA squad leader who was presented by his wife to the mayor of Pinabacdao, Samar.

“The launch was also an avenue to know the families’ concerns on having loved ones involved in the communist armed movement.”

“These family members and relatives of active NPA members were also accompanied by their respective village chiefs during the activity to show their endless support in bringing their misguided loved ones to return to the mainstream society and live a peaceful life,” Vestuir added.

It has been observed that these family members are also pressured by the Communist Terrorist Group’s leadership to join or support the armed struggle through disinformation, such as instilling hate and fear of the government.

Assistance for Friends Rescued

“Contrary to the propaganda of the CTG’s leadership, the 802nd Brigade will help them in their claims of the different programs of the LGUs and our government agencies for Former Rebels (FRs), and we fully commit our support with all available resources,” Vestuir added, giving assurance to the families that their loved ones will be treated well once they return into the fold of law.

True indeed, on September 5, the City Government of Borongan, through Mayor Jose Ivan Dayan, handed over cheques amounting to P50,000 to two rebel returnees and P10,000 each to 69 supporters per unit militia from Brgy. San Andres, this city.

"Bagong tyansa sa buhay, mas mabuting kinabukasan para samin at sa mga anak namin. Hindi ko naisip na bibigyan kami ng LGU ng mainit na salubong. Itong tulong na binigay nila samin nagpapatunay na may bukas at pagasa pa rin para sa aming mga nag surrender,” alias Lala said during the distribution on September 5, 2023.

Aside from financial assistance, the government also distributes food packs and pangkabuhayan packages, among others, as strategies utilizing the whole-of-government approach to completely wipe out the insurgency in the country.

“This FREe Families Program gives a chance to rebels, who are also victims of wrong ideologies, to return back into the fold of law, and live a safe, better life back to the arms of their families,” Vestuir said.

Since the brigade moved to Eastern Samar last June, Vestuir said that they have at least seven surrenderers convinced by their families to abandon the armed struggle and return to the fold of the law.

Vestuir concluded the activity with a heartfelt message to the participants.

“Let's show them that love can defeat the anger planted by the CPP-NPA in the hearts of your relatives. With the families united and living harmoniously peacefully, we are optimistic about having communities that are conflict-resilient, development-receptive, and NPA-inhospitable,” Vestuir said. (MMP/VTG/PIA E. Samar)

COMBATTING DISINFORMATION: A family member of an active NPA rebel reads a flyer exposing the wrong ideologies of the NPA during the launching of the Friends Rescued Engagement through their Families (FReE Families) project on October 4 at the Harayupan Covered Court, Brgy. Campesao, Borongan City. (Photo courtesy of 802nd IB)

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Samuel Candido


Region 8

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