The hope to start a new life with their families fueled the desire of 96 former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) to finally surrender to the government. And through the benefits under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) awarded to them here in a ceremony organized by the Provincial Government of Surigao del Sur, the former rebels (FRs) were given means in securing a foothold in restarting their lives.
Following the Oath of Allegiance administered by Surigao del Sur Governor Vicente T. Pimentel, Jr., 82 male and 14 female FRs received livelihood assistance and immediate cash assistance from the provincial local government, vegetable seeds from Department of Agriculture (DA) CARAGA, hygiene kits and medicines from Department of Health (DOH) CARAGA, and food packs from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) – CARAGA Region. Fourteen of them will also receive firearms remuneration for having surrendered 36 firearms.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) also awarded Php 5-M to the Provincial Government of Surigao del Sur for the construction of a halfway house which will serve as a transitional shelter for FRs while undergoing the process of reintegration.
Moreover, Tandag City was also awarded the Performance Challenge Fund amounting to Php 5.1 million.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año, the guest of honor and speaker in the event, thanked and commended the efforts of local leaders, specifically Augusan del Norte Governor Ma. Angelica Rosedell Amante-Matba, Chairperson of the Regional Peace and Order Council – Region XIII and Gov. Pimentel, Jr. He also cited the support coming from Congressman Prospero Pichay, Congressman Johnny Pimentel, and the other local government officials and staff.
“Dahil sa inyong tunay malasakit para sa inyong mga nasasakupan, matagumpay nating nailunsad ang E-CLIP sa inyong rehiyon. Sana ay patuloy pa ninyong pangunahan ang pagpapalawig at pagpapatuloy sa ating programa. Dahil din sa inyong mahusay na pamamahala, nagkaroon ng dahilan ang ating mga kababayan na muling magtiwala sa pamahalaan at mga pinuno,” Sec. Año said.
Secretary Año likewise commended Task Force Balik-Loob (TFBL) Chairperson, Usec. Reynaldo B. Mapagu of the Department of National Defense, DILG Assistant Secretary Alexander Macario, and all TFBL-lead and partner agencies including DSWD, DILG, DOH, DA, Department of Justice, National Housing Authority, Technical Education Skills Development Authority, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Education, Department of Agrarian Reform, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, and the Commission on Higher Education.
“Dahil sa inyong dedikasyon at walang humpay na pagtatrabaho, nagkaroon ng direksyon ang ating E-CLIP. Sa katunayan, naibigay na ang halos 464 milyong piso sa mga regional offices na nangangasiwa sa pagpapatupad ng E-CLIP sa buong bansa. Sa ngayon, aabot na sa 800 na mga kapatid natin ang nabigyan ng suporta sa kanilang panibagong buhay,” said Sec. Año.
He encouraged the FRs to call on to their former comrades and join them in yielding to the government, “Ang landas tungo sa kapayapaan ay hindi imposible kapag tayo ay patuloy na magtutulungan at magkaisa. Kaya patuloy tayong maniwala at manindigan na may puwang ang kapayapaang magsisilbing tulay tungo sa tunay na pag-unlad.”
Meanwhile, Usec. Mapagu thanked the FRs for their decision to rejoin the government and encouraged them to take advantage of the assistance from the government to improve their condition, emphasizing that their future is in their own hands. He shared the success story of “Imelda” whose turning point in her life was her decision to surrender from the countryside.
“Her story is one of our inspirations. Imelda is now a businesswoman and a millionaire, exporting produce to different countries. Pa’no siya naging success story? Kasi nandun ‘yung passion niya, ‘yung commitment niya para umangat ‘yung buhay niya, gumanda ‘yung kinabukasan niya…. although may benepisyo na ibinigay sainyo ang gobyerno, pero dapat rin kayo magsumikap para umangat ang inyong buhay,” Usec. Mapagu added.
At the sidelines of the event, the Task Force Balik-Loob Team interviewed some of the FRs who received assistance through the E-CLIP. All interviewees said the reason why they left the communist terrorist group CPP-NPA was their longing for their families. They said they realized the futility of insurgency when they were abandoned by their leaders. “We lived in constant fear of armed confrontation given the intensified military operations which were backed by stronger cooperation of the citizens, local government units and civil society groups to the soldiers. The hope to start a new life, with freedom and peace with them, strengthened our resolve to do the right thing, which was to surrender,” one of the FRs said.