PANDI, Bulacan .. The hardships in the armed struggle have forced a former leader of the militant urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) and her members to go back to the folds of the law.
Lolita de Jesus, former president of Kadamay-Villa Luis resettlement site in Barangay Siling Bata here, said she could no longer bear the hunger and fatigue she experienced while with the insurgents.
“What I had experienced in the mountains was no joke. At kaya ako nagbalik-loob sa gobyerno upang maituwid ang mga mali kong nagawa noon,” said de Jesus, who is known in the group as “Ka Lolit”.
Ka Lolit is one of the 451 mass base supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA) who denounced and withdrew support from the communist terrorist group (CTG) during ceremonies on Thursday at the Atlantica Pandi 2 Resettlement Area in Barangay Mapulang Lupa.
The returnees took their oath of allegiance to the government, witnessed by Governor Daniel Fernando as head of the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC); BGen Andrew Costelo, Brigade Commander of 703 Bde, 7IB; Brig. Gen. Rolando Asuncion (ret), NICA III, Brig. Gen. Abraham Claro Casis (ret) OPAPP, LtCol Felix Valdez, Battalion Commander of the 48IB; Pandi Mayor Enrico Roque; PCol Pedro Soliva, Deputy Regional Director for Operation, Region 3, Bulacan PNP director PCol Lawrence Cajipe and other members of the regional and provincial ELCAC.
After the oath-taking and signing, the Kadamay members, as proof of their withdrawal of support to the leftist group, burned the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) flag in front of police, military, and government officials.
Fernando said the continuous local peace engagement activities of the provincial government and local municipality of Pandi, PNP and Philippine Army such as information dissemination and situational interview made the Kadamay members aware of the government programs and the opportunity to change their lives and correct the mistakes they have committed due to deception by the CTG.
The governor said the Kadamay members’ decision to support the government is the best move on their part to avail the provincial government’s program to assist them.
“Walang hinangad na pangit ang gobyerno para sa atin. Nagpapasalamat ako kay Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte sa kanyang pagsisikap na tapusin ang hidwaan sa ating bansa,” he said.
Fernando said the provincial government has sustainable livelihood programs, as well as scholarship programs for Kadamay members or rebel returnees.
He assured the provision of social services, employment opportunities, and improved quality of life to the returnees.
“I will help and support you sa abot ng aking makakaya,” Fernando added.
Col. Lawrence Cajipe, provincial director of the Bulacan PNP, said the Bulacan police together with the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) and the AFP will remain committed to securing, ensuring, and implementing law and order for the well-being of Filipinos including the future generations.
Pandi Mayor Roque said the 451 Kadamay returnees comprise the second batch of the group that has voluntarily surrendered and announced their support to the government.
Almost a year ago, he said some 185 Kadamay members surrendered in 11 resettlement sites in this town.
“Masaya ako dahil meron tayo nahihikayat na katulad nila para magbalik-loob sa gobyerno pero nakakalungkot dahil meron pa rin mga nabubulagan sa maling paniniwala ng mga iilan na lamang natitirang Kadamay,” Roque said.
After the ceremony, the former militants received food packs from the provincial and municipal governments.
Also graced the said event were representative from different government agency such as DOLE, COA, TESDA, DTI, PIA, Pandi Vice Mayor Lui Sebastian, Atty. Abner Zamora of Patrol Partylist and Mapulang Lupa Brgy. Captain Rogelio Leonardo. (RONDA BALITA Online)