KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato (PIA) -- A medic of the communist terrorist group (CTG) operating in the hinterland boundaries of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Sarangani provinces surrendered to government forces based in Lake Sebu.
Alias Jean, 23, medic of Platoon Dabudabu, Regional Sentro de Gravedad, Far South Mindanao Region yielded to troops of the 5th Special Forces Battalion under the operational control of 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade in collaboration with the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) in Sitio Datal Kadi, Tasiman Lake Sebu, this province on May 21. She also surrendered an M16A1 rifle.
On Tuesday, Jean was presented to South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo S. Tamayo Jr., by Col. Andre Santos, commander of the 1st Mechanized Brigade and Lt. Col. Carlyleo Nagac, commander of the 5th Special Forces Battalion.
The former rebel told local press that she was recruited to the New People's Army when she was still a minor. She dropped out of school, and was trained to care for CTG members.
Jean said she was lured to join the terrorist group because of the latter’s promises of financial support and brighter future.
“None of these promises were fulfilled,” she said in the vernacular. “Support from the leadership has also stopped.”
There were times that they had nothing to eat for days and had to regularly mobilize in the midst of the night regardless of the terrain, even under torrential rain, she added.
In a press statement, the 1st Mechanized Brigade said, “[Jean] was utilized as a medic, and her primary role was to provide preventive as well as medical care to wounded CTG members. [She] was lured into the CTG when she was 16 years old, a 3rd year high school student. She was methodically deceived, manipulated, and exploited so that she would choose to fight with the organization's armed militia.”
Apart from the hardship of living in the mountains and constant fear of getting into encounters with government troops, Jean was also motivated to return to the mainstream society because of her desire to reunite with her family, including her two children, and the experience of her brother, also a former rebel, who has benefited from the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Integration Program (ECLIP).
“The surrender of [Jean] is a significant victory in the government's fight against the communist terrorist group. It is a testament of the government's sincerity in its peace efforts and its commitment to ending the decades-long conflict in the country,” the 1st Mechanized Brigade stated.
“[Her] story is a reminder of the human cost of conflict. She is one of many people, who have been caught up in the violence of the CTG insurgency. She is also a reminder of the power of peace. By surrendering, [Jean] has taken a step towards a better future for herself, her family and her country.”
Jean is currently being enrolled in the E-CLIP, Lt. Col. Nagac said.
E-CLIP is a government program intended to help former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and Militia ng Bayan to restore their allegiance to the Philippine Government. Through E-CLIP, they can be integrated back to the community, be with their families, and start over with their new, normal lives.
Financial assistance that former rebels receive under the program includes P21,000 reintegration assistance, P15,000 immediate assistance, P50,000 livelihood assistance and remunerations for firearms, explosives, and ammunitions surrendered.
They can also avail of other government aids such as livelihood, skills training, scholarship, health insurance, housing, and many others.
Meanwhile, Governor Tamayo assured Jean, despite being a resident of another province, that the Provincial Government of South Cotabato will provide her with all the services she needs as she continues her journey of returning to the mainstream society.
“Every benefit that the government can offer – livelihood, free education, hospitalization – we will provide you,” Gov. Tamayo told the former rebel. (PIA SOUTH COTABATO)