Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 58th Infantry Battalion spent their Christmas holiday with the evacuees from Sitio Kamansi, Lagonglong town, Misamis Oriental, and three former rebels who surrendered during Christmas Eve.
In a press released on Saturday, the battalion unit said it went to the evacuees at their temporary relocation site in Old Kibanban, Barangay Kibanban, in Balingasag town, Misamis Oriental province on December 27.
Members of the 58IB gave gifts to some 28 families and joined some parlor games for the children and adults. This was also supported by the local government of Lagonglong.
As early as June 2018, around 30 to 60 families have fled from their homes in Sitio Kamansi and took temporary shelter at the grounds of Misamis Oriental Provincial Capitol here in the city.
They evacuated due to the ongoing armed conflict between military troops and members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
As of December 30, some of the families are still staying at the capitol compounds.
Lt. Col. Anthony Derilo, 58IB commanding officer, said their goal was to reach out to these families during the holiday season.
“Much as I want to have them spend Christmas in their homes in Sitio Kamnsi and others in their beloved Sitio Anahaw, the CPP-NPA Terrorist and NDF Organizer kept on threatening and preventing them to go back and using them as a means to pressure the government to pull out military detachment in their areas,” he said as quoted in the press release.
Also quoted was Lagonglong town mayor Jay Alber Puertas, who was responsible in organizing the activity with the Barangay Council of Banglay. Other stakeholders also gave the evacuees some gifts.
“We want to extend the spirit of Christmas to these families with the Army’s 58IB and let them feel the love and joy this season brings,” Puertas said.
Meanwhile, 58IB officials said they also accepted the surrender of three NPA members of Sub-Regional Committee-1 at its headquarters in Sitio Migbanday, Poblacion, Claveria town, Misamis Oriental last December 24.
The three former rebels, known with the aliases Kiwan, Jaydams, and Anak, were all under the “Sentro de Grabidad platoon Ryan of Guerilla Front Toto.”
The press statement added that the three brought with them an M16 rifle, an M1 Carbine and a .45-caliber pistol. The three were said to have surrendered to Datu Kailingan, an indigenous peoples’ leader.
They were turned over to 58IB to have their requirements processed to avail of the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
As per report, the former rebels surrendered because of the hardships in the NPA units, which turned out to be contrary to what the rebel group promised through their propaganda.
The former rebels were reported to have claimed that they “suffered hunger and fatigue during the continued Army’s focused military operations, in order to ensure the peace in Misamis Oriental.”
“I welcome these FRs to our unit and partake with the season of love and happiness that Christmas brings. Our unit will ensure that they will be given a better future away from conflict and violence with their families. These only shows that corruption is flagrant in the NPA and all they said were just lies, empty promises and propaganda to deceive the Filipinos in joining them. To the rebels out there, we welcome you to our unit and we will help you to get the better life you longed for under the E-CLIP program,” Derilo said in the statement