ILOILO City – President Rodrigo Duterte is leading this afternoon’s disposition of firearms and decommissioning of former fighters of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army – Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) Tabara-Paduano Group in Camp Peralta, Jamindan, Capiz.
A total of 310 members of the RPA-ABB across the islands of Panay and Negros surrendered to the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) recently.
In 2000, the RPA-ABB signed a peace agreement with the national government then under President Joseph Estrada.
This afternoon’s disposition of firearms of RPA-ABB is part of the agreements in the Clarificatory Implementing Document which was signed by the group and the Philippine government on July 19, 2019, towards the completion of the commitments in the 2000 peace agreement.
As part of the decommissioning process, the former combatants will stay at the 3ID headquarters in Camp Peralta for at least two months to undergo training under the Army.
The rebellious doctrines they received will be replaced by the military way of peace and security operations, said Army Captain Cenon Pancito III, 3ID spokesperson.
The RPA-ABB is a breakaway group of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA). They split in 1996 due to ideological differences.
The government’s peace agreement with the RPA-ABB is a good model for localized peace talks with the CPP-NPA, according to presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez.
The Duterte administration has terminated peace talks with the CPP-NPA which were restarted in 2016 but bogged down over the government’s alleged failure to release more political prisoners and the continued NPA attacks.
After their Army training, the former RPA-ABB combatants will be issued firearms to become Special Civilian Active Auxiliary members.
They would be assigned to different areas in Western Visayas. They will have detachments under military supervision.
Veronica Tabara, the group’s leader, assured the full transformation of her members, said Pancito, and they vowed to help the government attain genuine peace in their communities.
The RPA-ABB is said to have an influence on 100 villages across the country, 91 of which are in Western Visayas.
The RPA-ABB members who surrendered were from Negros Occidental (San Carlos City, 70; Bago City, 35; Kabankalan City, 32; and Cauayan, 35), Negros Oriental (Tanjay City, 35), Aklan (Ibajay, 35), and Iloilo (Maasin, 33). (With a report from the Philippine News Agency/PN)