The participants were composed of 100 former active members of the Anakpawis in Pamplona town, mostly women, while the other 50 were either members of the left-leaning groups or rebel returnees from the towns of Sto Nino, Rizal, Amulung, Solana and Piat.
Regional Director Dennis Godfrey Gammad of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) region 2 said the activity is part of the government's effort to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) and to attain peace and development in the region.
"This is a whole-of-nation approach. This activity is not just a cosmetic but a new beginning. As you can see, our partner agencies are here to show their support in our desire to attain peace and security in the locality," Gammad said.
NICA also oriented the members on the real situation and tactics of the red groups in recruiting people in the countryside, especially the youth and students.
Three leaders of the progressive group also gave their testimonies on how they were convinced and decieved to join the New Peoples Army and Anakpawis until eventually they became recruiters and organizers.
Provincial Administrator Darwin Sacramed said the provincial government of Cagayan is ready to help the former rebels where he mentioned that one of the priorities of the administration of Governor Manuel Mamba is peace and development in the rpovince.
Sacramed also laid some programs and projects of the provincial government for the former rebels to reintegrate them to their respective communities and live productively.
For his part, Police Colonel Ronaldo Bayting, deputy regional director for operations, said in 2018 there were 44 surrenderers in the whole region either regular members or militia ng bayan), 104 in 2019, 223 in 2020, and 354 in the first quarter of this year.
"We now have 725 surrenderers in the region. This reveals that those people who were with the left-leaning groups for more than 50 years have already realized the right thing to do, to be back to the government and live peacefully and normally," Bayting said.
Brigadier General Steve Crespillo of the 501st Brigade, Philippine Army also assured their support to the surrenderers and vowed to protect them against any atrocities.
Lietuenant Colonel Rowan Rimas of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 10 also encouraged the surrenderers not to hesitate to seek their assistance if needed.
Rimas also urged those who want to surrender to approach them as they are open to help reintegrate former rebels to mainstream society.
The Provincial Government of Cagayan and the Philippine National Police Region 2 also gave food packs to all the participants.(ALM/OTB/PIA-Cagayan)
By Oliver T. Baccay