By Mar S. Arguelles
LEGAZPI CITY --- Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana witnessed on Tuesday (Oct. 9) the surrender of some 134 former New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas to military authorities to become part of the government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) in Masbate province, an official of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) in Masbate said on Tuesday.
Lorenzana led national and local officials in accepting the hundreds of NPA rebels that decided to embrace peace and end the five-decade insurgency war, according to Ernesto Delgado, PIA Masbate provincial director.
Delgado in a phone interview said that of the 134 rebel surrenderees, 109 were from Masbate while 25 rebels came from Sorsogon province.
Among the rebel surrenderers was a political officer of the National Democratic Front (NDF) operating in the island province of Masbate, Delgado said.
He said at least 15 assault firearms that were surrendered by the rebels were displayed for viewing during the the ceremony held at the Magallanes Coliseum in Masbate City.
The CLIP program was followed by the opening of the newly-built P50M concrete temporary shelter for rebel returnees at the Police Camp Boni Serrano compound in Masbate City.
The rebel shelter can accommodate hundreds of people, the first structure for such purpose built in the country, he said.
The shelter, otherwise called “Halfway House,” serves as a temporary home of former NPA rebels that while they undergo integration process under the CLIP program.
The building can accommodate around 20 families, Delgado said.
Another additional P50M is expected to be released as local government counterpart. The amount would be used to construct facilities.
Earlier, Lorenzana held a closed-door meeting with Masbate Gov. Antonio Kho and 21 of city and town mayors.