‘Fake’ rebel surrender program used to harass farmers – activists

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Farmers from Eastern Visayas protest a DILG program they claim forces them to become 'rebel surrenderees.' (photo by Katrina Yamzon)

MANILA, Philippines — Farmers from Eastern Visayas picketed the Department of Interior and Local Government head office on Friday to demand an end to the Comprehensive Local Integration Program, which is ostensibly meant to provide funds to surrendered communist rebels but which they said was used to harass them.

The protesters also called CLIP, which offers up to P140,000 to rebels who surrender, a “huge source of corruption.”

“Voluntary surrender under CLIP is fake news,” Jun Berino of Samahan han Gudti nga Parag-uma-Sinirangan Bisayas, said in a staement. “We, innocent farmers, are either forced to surrender, bribed with P140,000 or lured into signing blank documents. CLIP is nothing but a huge chunk of fund used to harass farmers for propaganda posturing, a huge source of corruption, a fascist reintegration program.”

Mila Quimbo, a member of the Northern Samar Small Farmers Association, said she was threatened by the 20th Infantry Battalion when she turned down the money offer in exchange for signing forms as a “surrenderee” from the New People’s Army.

She claimed they threatened to put her on a “hit list” by Army officers who allegedly warned her that the “Tokhang” anti-drug campaign “will be their new tool against us farmers.”

The farmers also said three farmers — Teny Gerbon, Richard Avino and Arnel Aquino — were tending their farms in Palapag, Northern Samar when they were “abducted” by troops of the 20th Infantry Battalion, which then declared them as rebel suenderees “to justify their detention.”

Aquino’s mother, Jocelyn, maintained he “did not voluntarily surrender.”

The farmer said the money intended for CLIP was better realigned “to basic social services” or as emergency production assistance to them.