Bohol, Philippines – Six former rebels of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered to Governor Erico Aristotle Aumentado during the 14th Provincial Peace Day held at the Bohol Cultural Center on Friday.

The six, four men and two women, came from the towns of Balilihan and Ubay. They turned over their firearms to Aumentado, who was joined by PLT Dunhill Sarmiento, PCol. Lorenzo Batuan, and other officials.

They also received financial assistance worth P860,000 from the provincial government, which they can use to start a new livelihood.

The event, which had the theme “Together with Reform; Together with Advancement”, was attended by nearly 400 people, mostly former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)/NPA who have returned to the fold of the law under the Friends of Reform (KR) program.

Aumentado said that his administration has been pursuing a comprehensive approach to end the insurgency problem in the province, which was declared as an insurgency-free province in February 2010 during the term of his father, former Governor Erico Aumentado.

He said that aside from visiting the villages and delivering the needed services, he also initiated the Abante Barangay Service Caravan, which aims to provide services in remote areas and convince the remaining rebels to surrender.

He also presided over the swearing-in of the new officers of PEACE Inc. (People’s Advocacy on Collaboration and Empowerment), a group composed of former rebels. The new president of the group is Danilo Olaivar, who succeeded Paulo Carnice.

Aumentado expressed his happiness at the increasing number of former rebels who have surrendered to the government under his administration. He said that after the surrender of Elizar Nabas, a former NPA leader, another 60 former rebels also followed suit.

He challenged the participants to work together to maintain the peace and development of the province. He also praised the Office of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development (OPSWD) and the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) for organizing the event. He thanked the various agencies for their cooperation and support.

The participants came from 15 clusters, namely Alicia 1&2, Catigbian, Carmen, Candijay, Ubay 1, 2 & 3, Inabanga, Sevilla, Batuan, Bilar, Danao, Antequera and the combined Talibon-Trinidad-Bien Unido and San Miguel.