76 ex-NPAs get cash benefits in Davao City

The 76 former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, who surrendered in this city, were given a new lease in life after receiving a total of PHP4.4 million in total cash benefits under the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) on Monday.

Mayor Sara Z. Duterte, who led the distribution of benefits, along with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) officials, said she wanted the money released immediately so the former rebels can feel the tangible impact of the government’s programs.

Of the total amount, some PHP3.51 million from the DILG was intended for livelihood assistance while the local government provided a total of PHP975,000 for firearms remuneration.

Each of the surrenderers received either PHP65,000 or PHP40,000 representing immediate cash assistance of PHP15,000, remuneration for surrendered firearms at PHP50,000 for high-powered firearms and PHP25,000 for the smaller ones.

One of the recipients, 20-year-old Jerome (not his real name), received PHP65,000. He said he was nervous, and at the same time happy with his new-found freedom after his surrender in January last year.

Jerome said he was 18 when the NPA recruited him to be posted in the areas of North Cotabato and the hinterland parts of the city. He said he would use the money to open a small store and engage in piggery.

Like Jerome, Ka Princess (name also withheld) who received PHP65,000 also wants to engage in raising pigs.

Ka Princess was a political instructor of the NPA’s Pulang Bagani Command 1, which operates in Paquibato District. She was in college when she joined the NPA.

Ka Princess said she has become a target for assassination of the NPA after she abandoned the communist rebel group.

Brig. Gen. Ernesto Torres, commander of the Army’s 1003rd Brigade, said 54 beneficiaries were given financial assistance under the E-CLIP.

The other 22 are still completing their requirements but already received remuneration for their surrendered firearms, Torres added.

Torres said a total of 45 former rebels were also granted assistance amounting to PHP2.9 million by the DILG and the Davao del Norte provincial government on December 21.

In her message to former rebels, Mayor Sara advised them to invest their money.

“Do not spend it on alcohol. Do not use it on activities where you cannot see the result of your investment,” Sara said in the dialect.

The mayor also said the former rebels should explore and avail of the opportunities provided by the local government, such as free education for their children, skills and entrepreneurship training, or jobs if they want to work with the city government, the Davao City Police Office (DCPO), and the Philippine Army. (Lilian C Mellejor/PNA)