THE New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Negros Oriental are encouraged to lay down their arms and surrender to authorities and avail of a P300,000 cash assistance offered by Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon.

Philippine Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion Commander Roderick Garcia said Wednesday, March 8, the offer of Governor Marañon is not only limited to NPA members in Negros Occidental.

Both provinces belong to the Negros Island Region (NIR), and so, therefore, to attain lasting peace, all NPA members in the island are covered by Marañon’s offer, said Garcia.

Governor Marañon had earlier announced his offer to all active members of the NPA in NIR of a maximum of P300,000 per rebel who will surrender to government with a high-powered firearm.

Those without a firearm will receive cash assistance of up to P100,000.

Garcia pointed out the Negros Occidental governor’s offer is on top of the P65,000 aid that the government, through its Comprehensive Livelihood Integration Program (Clip), is giving per rebel who will surrender to authorities.

The Clip is being implemented through the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Those who will surrender will undergo a process prior to being listed as a beneficiary to the program, as well as to the offer of Governor Marañon, said Garcia.

According to the 79th Infantry Battalion commander, there are more or less 50 NPA rebels reported in Negros Oriental to date.

They are mostly sighted in the first district of the province, particularly in Guihulngan City, Canlaon City, Tayasan and Ayungon.

Many of them, however, are mobile as they cross boundaries to the other side of the island, the Garcia added.

Garcia is hoping the NPA rebels will take the offer of Marañon while there are no peace talks at the local and/or national level.

Once a peace agreement is reached, the offer will no longer stand, Garcia said, because there will be certain arrangements all packaged as part of the agreement, such as livelihood, housing and others similar to those offered to the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade.

Following the failure of the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the NPA at the national level, officials in Negros Island announced considering holding local peace talks.

NPA rebels wishing to surrender may send feelers to authorities, especially the Philippine Army, so their papers can be processed, Garcia said.

He assured their security and safety as they return to the folds of the law and be integrated into mainstream society. (PNA)