Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Model Community Project Reunites Rebels’ Families

WELCOME EMBRACE. Camarines Sur Governor Luis Ray 'L-Ray' Villafuerte embraces Edwin Nazarionda a.k.a. Ka Marjorie,40, who is one of the former NPA rebels who benefited the free housing awarded to them during the ground-breaking ceremony held in the Model Community established in Pili town yesterday, February 22. Looking on is Major General Ruperto 'Raffy' Pabustan, Commander of the 9th Infantry Division (center) and Lieutenant General Roland Detabali, Commander, Southern Luzon Command (rightmost). (Photo by Major Harold M Cabunoc/9th CMO Battalion)

PILI, Camarines Sur – The model community project launched by the local authorities here yesterday, February 22, has reunited the families of former NPA rebels.

Separated from their family members who opted to join the communist rebel movement, tears of joy flowed during the groundbreaking ceremony attended by senior military officials, local chief executives and representatives from partner NGOs.

Nena Miraran, 52, of Pamplona town said that her son’s ‘stubbornness’ led to his joining the communist rebel movement. She revealed that she spent many sleepless nights thinking about her NPA son, Jeffrey, 23, who became a hardline communist rebel.

“Everytime I see him, I hug him and urge him to give up and surrender to the government. I told him the futility of his cause,” said Miraran.

“During inclement weather, I can’t help but think about his situation. I was wondering if he was safe for the night and so, I kept on crying everytime I remember him”.

Jeffrey said that he was convinced to join the rebel movement after hearing his friend’s explanation about the problems in the society.

He said that he was lured into the bandit group when his recruiter promised that his family would be receiving the ‘SUPAMIL’ (suporta sa pamilya/family support) in the form of cash allowances and rice subsidy.

Two years of playing hide-and-seek with government forces, he decided to surrender in 2006 after learning that his family have never received any form of financial or material support from the bandit group.

Edwin Nazarionda a.k.a. Ka Marjorie, 40, was an elementary school teacher and a United Methodist pastor when he was recruited to join the militant Bayan Muna. Later, he found himself becoming one of the hardline armed group members who carried out series of tactical offensives against the government forces and installations.

“I left my teaching profession because of their sweet promises such as the monthly P8,000.00 financial support and rice subsidy. I surrendered when I realized that everything was mere sweet-talk and that my family was plunged into the quagmire of extreme poverty,” explained Nazarionda who is the president of the group of former rebels.

Nazarionda was in tears after turning over his firearm in a solemn ground-breaking ceremony attended by 40 other former rebels which was also attended by Governor L-Ray Villafuerte, Major General Ruperto Pabustan and Southern Luzon Command commander Lieutenant General Roland Detabali.

It can be recalled that the establishment of the model community in Pili town was recommended by Major General Ruperto Pabustan to CamSur Governor L-Ray Villafuerte in order to help the former rebels sustain their respective families.

“I am thankful that the good Governor readily supported my proposal. In turn, he asked the support from Mr Tony Meloto of Gawad Kalinga Foundation, who pledged to construct houses for the 41 former rebels who were screened by the joint committee,” said Pabustan.

Lieutenant General Roland Detabali, Southern Luzon Command Chief, said that he has appreciated the initiatives of the 9th ID and the local authorities in the Bicol Region.

“I believe that this is one of the best way to encourage more communist rebels to return to the folds of the law. We cannot solve the social problems that have driven them to fight the government by military solution alone,” said Detabali who talked to the press after the ground breaking ceremony held here.

“I hope that this good project will be re-echoed in the rest of the provinces here in the region and probably, in the whole country,” added Detabali.

The provincial government of Camarines Sur donated the 5.7 hectare lot that can accommodate 100 houses. It is located near the Naga airport, around 4.5 kilometers away from Camp Elias Angeles.

To sustain their livelihood, an income-generating project would be established within the community.

Earlier in the day, at least 500 Army soldiers participated in the launching of the “El Verde 12-Million Trees by 2012” tree planting project of CamSur government, also in Pili town.

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