BACOLOD City – Some 2,500 former members and supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Negros Occidental are set to formalize their surrender to authorities during the Northern Negros Peace Summit.
The three-day gathering, which will be held at the Escalante City Coliseum on Sept. 19 to 21, will also mark the 34th year of the Escalante massacre.
Captain Cenon Pancito III, chief of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) Public Affairs Office, said on Wednesday the peace summit will serve as a peaceful venue for reconciliation among the concerned sectors, former rebels, and families of the massacre victims.
“We also aim to deliver an awakening message to the CPP-NPA and their allies that the masses want to move on from the sorrows and miseries brought by their selfish and bloody armed struggle and embrace the brighter and harmonious tomorrow,” he added.
Captain Rowell Dairocas, civil-military operations officer of the Philippine Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion, said the participants will come from various localities in northern and central Negros.
Among the activities will be the issuance of the statement of apology from government sectors and former NPA rebels, handover of surrendered firearms, and oath of allegiance by the surrenderers.
The activities during the peace summit will also include a medical mission for former rebels, candle-lighting ceremony, commemorative mass, and cultural presentations.
There will be a declaration of “Day of Commemoration” and a tribute to the Escalante massacre victims.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government will also hold a “Dagyawan” dialogue with the participants.
According to the Army’s 3ID, the peace summit will be a convergence of the efforts of local government units in northern Negros with Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.
Support will also be provided by the academe, religious, and other sectors as well as groups of former rebels.
“It intends not only to commemorate the Escalante massacre but also to mark a new journey towards the attainment of the desired genuine peace and progress in northern Negros,” Pancito said.
The Escalante massacre, which took place on Sept. 20, 1985, claimed the lives of some 20 persons and injured several others. The incident happened a day before the commemoration of the 13th anniversary of martial law. (With a report from PNA/PN)