NEWS FEATURE:  REBEL  RETURNS  FROM  THE  DEAD

MANILA, NOVEMBER 1, 2008 (STAR) By James Mananghaya - Back from the dead? Almost. A former New People’s Army (NPA) rebel long believed dead by his comrades and the military has resurfaced, saying that he faked his own death to avoid reprisal from his comrades.

Jesus Saklit, 42, known as Ka Bobby and Ka Brando in the NPA, was active in the Communist movement until 1995 and was even included in the military’s order of battle.

Saklit was declared dead by his comrades following an encounter with the Marines.

Just like in the movies, Saklit made everyone believe that he was dead for more than a decade in order to escape the movement and lead a normal life. But poverty and the difficulty of constantly being on the run compelled him to surrender to the military in order to join mainstream society.

Earlier this week, Saklit turned himself in after being “dead for more than ten years” to avail of the government’s assistance program for former communist rebels who have abandoned the movement, said Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Edgard Arevalo.

Saklit lived the life of a fugitive in his native town of Roxas in Palawan.

“He realized that the NPA is fighting a futile cause, so he decided to surrender to be able to live a normal life,” Arevalo said, adding Saklit could give vital information on the NPA that would boost the government’s campaign against the insurgency.

Roxas Mayor Dennis Sabando and Roxas parish priest Fr. Rex Abia facilitated Saklit’s surrender to Naval Forces West commander Commodore Ramon Espera Jr.

Arevalo said that initially, the military doubted his intentions to surrender and thought he was just faking to avail of monetary incentives from the government’s “Balik Baril Program.”

Former NPA rebels who surrender and turn in their firearms are given financial incentives.

But Arevalo said Saklit did not bring any firearm when he surrendered.

“That’s when we knew that he really wanted to surrender after years of hiding.”

As a rebel returnee, Saklit will be provided with livelihood assistance to start a small business – and perhaps begin a new life with his family.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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