MANILA, Philippines — A rebel returnee who goes by the alias “Marga” recalled her experiences in the hands of the New People’s Army (NPA).
Now seven months pregnant, Marga said the rebel group has no regard for the welfare of its members even to pregnant women like her.
“Wala gyud ma atiman ang ilang mga tao samot na sa mga buros. Lisod gyud kaayo kay walay pagkaon. Usahay mukaon mi, sa usa ka sardinas, kwarenta kabuok ang magbahin bahin. Mao na ang among kasinatian,” she said in her local dialect.
[Translation: They don’t take care of their people even the pregnant ones. Life was tough due to the lack of food. There were times when 40 people had to share a can of sardines. That was our experience.]
Marga and eight other rebels recently surrendered to authorities.
They were presented by the 58th Infantry Dimalulupig Battalion in a press conference at 58IB Headquarters in Sitio Migbanday, Brgy Poblacion, Claveria, Misamis Oriental on Thursday (August 19).
During the press conference, a total of 14 firearms were also presented, six of which were surrendered while the other eight were recovered during the retrieval operation of 58IB troops at the hinterlands of Barangay San Luiz, Malitbog, Bukidnon.
The former rebels received livelihood assistance under the government’s “Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP)” which helps former rebels rebuild their lives after returning to the folds of the law.
The assistance to Marga and her other companions included financial aid of P5,000 each, food packs, hygiene kits, sleeping kits, cooking kits, and P10,000 cash aid from the Department of Social Welfare and Development Region X (DSWD-10).
According to the accounts of the surrenderers, they had wanted to quit the organization for a long time due to the hardships and hunger. However, they were always held back by their leaders.
When the opportunity presented itself, they took it without hesitation.