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Army claims it is winning war against NPA in Leyte

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ORMOC CITY, Leyte – The New People’s Army force has weakened in the third district of Leyte after the surrender of a top leader and months of intensified military operation against the communist rebels.

Philippine Army 802nd brigade commander, Brigadier Gen. Lope Dagoy, said the surrender of thousands of rebels has weakened the organization this year in rebel-infested areas of Leyte province.

The military, national government agencies, and local government officials held a service caravan on Saturday in San Isidro town attended by more than a thousand rebel returnees, who, during the occasion, pledged to return to the folds of law.

Dagoy said on Saturday they finally managed to wipe out insurgency in the villages of San Isidro, which the rebels had exerted influence over for decades. Rebel returnees, mostly farmers, will avail of the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

“The mass surrender is a manifestation that the armed bandits are already weakening, that the people have lost confidence in them. After recovering the 3rd district, our next target is the 3rd district,” Dagoy told reporters.

The surrender of NPA leader and combatant Rolando Tarong last March caused the dwindling support of the members to the terrorist group, resulting in the mass renunciation of the NPA supporters, Dagoy said.

In his surrender, Tarong turned over long and short firearms, improvised explosive devices, and several live ammunition, among others. The army also confiscated subversive documents from him.

The Army also recovered more subversive documents used in community lectures, along with buried plastic containers containing stocks of rice.

Representatives from the national government agencies assisted former rebels during the caravan to fast track the processing of their assistance for these farmers to be able to live in the mainstream with a bearable source of living.

Dagoy said that under E-CLIP, former rebels will get PHP450,000 for housing, PHP15,000 for immediate financial assistance, cash equivalent to a surrendered firearm (depending on the category), PHP50,000 for livelihood assistance, modified conditional cash transfer, and PHP5,000 for conditional cash transfer.

They are also entitled to a loan slot for business, school matriculation, PHP100,000 worth of livelihood kit, medical aid, psychological services, and legal assistance.

San Isidro Mayor Susan Ang said that in response to President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s call directing local governments to identify a specific area for agricultural development, the town distributed corn seeds, livestock and pump boats to farmers as she believes that insurgency stops if families have food in their tables.

San Isidro, a 4th class town with a population of 31,641, is subdivided into 19 villages. Other towns in the 3rd legislative district are Calubian, Tabango, Leyte, and Villaba. (PNA)