THE Negros Occidental Provincial Government is offering as much as P300,000 to communist rebels who will surrender to the authorities.

This was announced Wednesday by Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. during the turn-over of command ceremony of the 303rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army in Camp Major Gerona, Murcia town.

Marañon, in a speech, said the provincial government will give a maximum of P300,000 for every rebel returnee.

“This is on top of the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (Clip) program benefits,” the governor said.

Clip, introduced by the Department of Interior and Local Government, is a collaborative program of the provincial government and the Philippine Army aimed at providing psycho-social and socio-economic security to former rebels to guide them to become productive members of the society.

Marañon said there will be conditions in giving out the financial assistance, adding that their names will have to be verified by the Army first.

The governor said the rebel returnee can get as much as P300,000 if he/she will also surrender high-powered firearms. If none, he could get P100,000.

Marañon said he had been calling on the members of the New People’s Army (NPA) to go back to mainstream society because war is useless.

With the new program, the governor said he is hopeful that many rebels will surrender.

“I pity them. They have to endure rain, heat, and hunger in the mountains. With this program, it could help their livelihood. They could send their children to school and improve their lives,” the governor said.

Mass recruitment

Major General Jon Aying, commander of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division based in Capiz, said there is “mass recruitment” of rebels in the region.

He said the NPA has to recruit because many have left the rebel movement.

“There’s mass leave,” Aying said, adding that the rebels prefer no ceasefire so they can have “full influence” on the communities.

Aying said he is confident that peace will be achieved in a few years time, but “we have to work together from the grassroots. There should also be an effort from the community level.”

Marching order

Aying’s marching order to the new 303rd IB commander, Colonel Eliezer Losañes, is to take charge of “focus operations,” which means more effort on combat operations, civil military operations, intelligence operations, and delivery of basic services.

Losañes said he is thankful for the support of the provincial government as it is a big boost to the Army’s anti-terrorism campaign.

He added that he would continue what his predecessor, Brigadier General Francisco Delfin, has started.