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More rebels embrace peace this year

Difficult living conditions in remote areas, hiding from government authorities, looking for food to survive with no permanent shelter for the family, and the danger faced in a possible encounter with government troops are just some of the reasons why more and more members of the Communist New People’s Army-Terrorists (CNTs) lay down their arms and embrace the government.

Added to these are the deprivation of children of their rights to have a proper education; they are denied the opportunity to enjoy their childhood lives as they have to keep moving from place to place to join their parents, who are hiding and fighting from government authorities.

However, the enlightenment by various government agencies on how these CTGs were deceived through massive information and education activities, plus the determination and sincerity of the government to bring about peace and development in the country, paved the way to the surrender of a number of communist rebels.

According to Major Mark Anthony Tito, spokesperson for the 10th Infantry Division Philippine Army, many rebels have surrendered to the government in the third quarter of 2023 due to the difficult conditions of living in their remote camps.

“These rebels were frequently forced to move around because of military operations that disrupted their activities. They were concerned about their families and the lack of direction in their struggle,” he said.

Tito encouraged others to follow in their footsteps and assured them that the government is available to provide help.

He stressed the importance of soldiers reaching out to former rebels and their families, encouraging them to surrender.

The former rebels waiting for the distribution of the E-CLIP assistance during the program
Government Assistance

One of the government’s assistance to the surrenderers is the Enhanced Comprehensive Livelihood Integration Program (E-CLIP).

ECLIP is a program of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU), formerly Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP). It aims to provide a complete package of assistance to former rebels who surrendered and opted to lead new lives and side with the government towards lasting peace and development.

The ECLIP is one facet of many strategies of the government to obtain just and lasting peace, social transformation, and inclusive development.

ECLIP is an encouraging scheme that promotes reconciliation in a non-violent manner. This process aims to provide a DILG-administered package of assistance to former rebels (FRs) and former violent extremists (FVEs), to include immediate assistance, livelihood assistance, reintegration process assistance, and remuneration for surrendered firearms.

Tito mentioned that the E-CLIP program has helped former rebels who surrendered their firearms.

“The assistance provided by local governments has been enough to help them start anew,” he said.

The Davao Region is currently experiencing relative peace and freedom despite ongoing threats from communist rebels attempting to reclaim lost territory, Tito said, acknowledging that there are still rebel threats in some parts of Bukidnon, Agusan del Sur, and Surigao del Sur.

Over 100 former rebels surrender

According to Major Tito, since January 1 this year, a total of 109 former rebels surrendered, 134 former militiang bayan stopped supporting the rebel movement, and 67 mass organizations yielded to authorities.

Since the implementation of NTF-ELCAC in 2016, more members of the CTGs have surrendered to the government as they realized the deceptions of the terrorists.

Major Tito revealed that from 2016 to 2023, a total of 2,231 regular Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs), 3,650 Militang Bayan (MB) and 12,909 Coopted Underground Mass Organization (UGMO) members affiliated with the CTG laid down their arms and surrendered to the government.

Rebels turn soldiers

In June 2018, Awing Apuga and his father, Datu Guibang Apuga, the legendary Talaingod town Indigenous Peoples (IP) rebel leader who had fought against government authorities for more than 20 years, surrendered to the government.

He was clouded with fear, lingering in his head the words of the New People’s Army, telling them that they would be mauled and tortured by the military if they surrendered to the government.

He said the NPAs had brainwashed them about the evils that they would suffer should they surrender themselves to the government; hence, they should better kill themselves rather than return to the folds of the law. However, all those worries he kept vanished after none of those happened to them when they gave in to the government.

Private Kurt Russel 0 Sosa, formerly known as alias "Ugnay," was the former Deputy Secretary of the dismantled Sub-Regional Committee 4 and Secretary of the Guerilla Front 3. He is now a bonafide soldier of the 10th Infantry "Agila" Division. Private Sosa also became the Class President out of 107 graduates, of whom 89 are males and 18 are females, who all belong to CSC "KATALAS" Class of 741 - 2022 and INFOC Class 26 - 2022.

Awing Apuga and his father were just among the many former rebels who embraced the government and now savor the government’s efforts in bringing peace and development to the Davao region.

The young Apuga, who is already one of the peace advocates, is an enlisted personnel of the Philippine Army, and he is very thankful for this unexpected opportunity given to him by the government.

Another former rebel who turned to the 10th Infantry Division (10ID) of the Philippine Army in November 2020 is Daniel Castillo, alias Steven. He was a former political instructor of the Guerilla Front 55 of the CTG.

Awing Apuga

During the graduation ceremony of the 10ID’s Candidates Soldier Course cross-trained with Infantry Orientation Course, Kurt Russel O. Sosa, formerly known as “Ugnay,” was among those who marched on stage to complete  the rigorous training. He is now a bonafide soldier of the 10ID.

Sosa, or “Ugnay,” was the former deputy of the dismantled Sub-Regional Committee 4 and Secretary of the Guirella Front 3.

Sonsa, who became the Class President of 107 graduates, is one of the three other former rebels and nine indigenous peoples who embraced the government.

From “Ka Awing,” “Ka Steven,” and “Ka Ugnay,” they are now serving the people as enlisted personnel of the Philippine Army. They are just among those former rebels who turned into soldiers.


One year has passed since the entire Davao Region, including its five provinces and Davao City, was declared insurgency-free. People are now enjoying a peaceful community where various government development programs and services are poured into it.

During this year’s National Peace Consciousness Month celebration organized by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) Eastern Mindanao, in partnership with Davao City local government and provincial governments in Davao region, Vice President Sara Z. Duterte said she “hopes and prays that the Philippines will soon witness the end of insurgency across the country.”

She stressed that the war waged by the NPAs for decades brought misery to the lives of the people, fear, and complete desolation to our communities.

She urged everyone to maintain their support and work collectively to preserve this situation by revealing the lies and deceptions of these groups, emphasizing that with such efforts, communities can be liberated from the NPAs who instill fear among the population, commit civilian and Lumad leader killings, employ landmines against soldiers, and extort money to fund their acts of terrorism.

She also stressed that good governance is the key to putting an end to the over 54-year-old communist insurgency in the Philippines. (JBG&JSGD/PIA Davao/ With some photos from 10ID-PAO-Phil. Army)

Vice President Sara Z. Duterte during the National Peace Consciousness Month celebration in Davao Region

About the Author

Jemin Guillermo, J.D.


Region 11

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