BUTUAN CITY – More than P5.985 million cash assistance and livelihood support were received by 113 former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Surigao del Sur.
The former rebels (FRs) were composed of 65 NPA regular members and 48 militias or members of the milisyang bayan (MB), 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division (4th ID) Public Affairs Office (PAO) chief Maj. Rodulfo S. Cordero, Jr. told The Manila Bulletin on Thursday.
Gov. Alexander T. Pimentel of Surigao del Sur handed over the assistance during the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) awarding ceremony spearheaded by the Caraga Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) in Tandag City on Tuesday.
The Caraga RTF-ELCAC is chaired by Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles who is also the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security for Caraga.
Each NPA regular member received at least P65,000 (P50,000 for livelihood assistance and P15,000 immediate cash assistance), while the militia received P15,000 cash assistance. A total of 5.985 million pesos were awarded to 113 FRs, Cordero said.
Those who surrendered their firearms also received P5,000 for low powered and up to P60,000 for high powered firearm.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Agriculture also distributed livelihood assistance to the beneficiaries.
Of the 113 FRs, 83 came from different CPP-NPA units operating in Surigao del Sur. They surrendered to the 36th Infantry Battalion, 75th Infantry Battalion, and 3rd Special Forces Battalion which are under the operational control of 401st Infantry (Unity) Brigade under Brig. Gen. Allan Hambala. The remaining 30 FRs surrendered to PNP units in Surigao del Sur.
During the awarding ceremony, Pimentel underscored the importance of people’s support in ending the insurgency in the country.
“To the peace loving Surigaonons, let us join together in ending the insurgency problem in our province by not supporting the CPP-NPA. Without the support of the masses, the government will not be able to end this problem,” the governor said.
Secretary Nograles, via a video message, commended the FRs for returning and pledging their allegiance to the government.
He assured them that the government is doing its best to provide the needed services in conflict-affected and geographically-isolated and disadvantaged areas.
Northeastern and Northern Mindanao 4th ID/Joint Task Force Diamond chief Maj. Gen. Andres C. Centino asked the remaining NPAs who are still in the mountains to come down and avail of the peace and development program of the government.
“To the remaining CPP-NPA members, this is your chance to avail of the assistance from the government so you will have peaceful and productive lives with your families. The government is waiting for you. Abandon the armed struggle now while you still have a chance,” Centino added.
Meanwhile, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) turned over a newly constructed halfway house to the provincial Government of Surigao del Sur, on Tuesday.
DILG Provincial Director Pedrito Alacaba spearheaded the turnover of the facility to Surigao del Sur Gov. Pimentel in a simple ceremony at Barangay Dayoan, in Tago town.
The DILG provided P5 million pesos for the construction of the building while the Local Government Unit provided the lot.
Pimentel said with the active support of all the members of the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC), he is optimistic that the insurgency problem in his province will end within the President’s term.
Centino underscored the role of the LGU in operationalizing the halfway house.
“We are looking forward to the operationalization of this facility. It will greatly help the deradicalization and rehabilitation of our FRs prior to their integration to mainstream society,” Centino said.
“The halfway house will serve as a processing center for surfacing rebels. They will temporarily stay in this facility while their benefits under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) are being processed,” the 4th ID chief added.