Army in E. Samar intensifies campaign to win NPA rebels’ kin

The Philippine Army and the local government of Borongan in Eastern Samar will extend more assistance to families of active members of the New People's Army (NPA) as part of their strategy to completely wipe out the insurgency in the province. This developed as the Philippine Army's 802nd Infantry Brigade recently launched the Friends Rescued Engagement through their Families (FReE Families) project to prevent the recruitment of family members of active NPA combatants. 'The FReE Families project aims to help the families of active NPA members in the 802nd Brigade's area of operation in Eastern Samar from the anxiety caused by the continued membership of their relatives in the NPA," commander of the Army's 802nd Infantry Brigade, Brig. Gen. Noel Vestuir, said in an interview on Wednesday. "It has been observed that these family members are also pressured by the Communist Terrorist Group's leadership to join or support the armed struggle through disinformation, such as instilling hate and fear of the government." Some officials of the military, police, and local governments, and 29 family members of 19 active NPA members who are residents of the province witnessed the launch of the project in Borongan on Oct. 4. 'The launch was also a venue to know the families' concerns on having loved ones involved in the communist armed movement. These family members and relatives of active NPA members were also accompanied by their respective village chiefs during the activity to show their endless support in bringing their misguided loved ones to return to the mainstream society and live a peaceful life,' Vestuir added. Since the transfer of the 802nd brigade from Ormoc City in Leyte to Borongan City in Eastern Samar in May this year, at least seven active NPA combatants have surrendered, while hundreds of their supporters in some parts of Samar provinces have abandoned the communist ideology. Vestuir attributed this accomplishment to the FReE Families-related program of the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in collaboration with family members.

Source: Philippines News Agency