CAMP BANCASI, Butuan City – The local government of Gingoog City has an proposed P18-million worth of livelihood assistance to former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels and members of Underground Mass Organization (UGMO) in Misamis Oriental, particularly in Gingoog City.

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PULONG-PULONG — Members of the Underground Mass Organization (UGMO) are shown during the “pulong-pulong” peace activity last week in Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental. (Photo courtesy of 58th IB-CMO via Mike U. Crismundo/Manila Bulletin)

1st Lt. Jefferson M. Mariano, Civil Military Operations (CMO) officer of the 58th Infantry Battalion (58th IB) said the proposed budget was made during the peace rally held at the covered court of Don Restituto Baol Elementary School last week.

“This is a good development and we expect more rebels to come down and avail of the government’s peace and development program,” Mariano said.

Gingoog City Mayor Erick Cañosa and Vice-Mayor Peter Unabia offered various livelihood programs of the national government to the former NPA supporters, including cacao production, fish cage culture, corn production, and livestock and poultry livelihood services such as the animal dispersal program. 

“It creates opportunities for farmers to uplift their living conditions and empower them to become more resilient. It also attests to the government’s commitment to provide basic and social services to the vulnerable, marginalized, and conflict-affected communities,” Mariano said. 

This is also in line with the implementation of Executive Order No. 70 (EO70) which converges all government agencies to render the necessary support to end local communist armed conflict in the country, he said. 

“We will continue to collaborate with other government agencies, with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Philippine National Police (PNP) as well as the non-government organizations to help you in your basic needs so that we will attain peace and development in our city,” Cañosa said during the peace rally.

Vice-Mayor Unabia also encouraged the farmers to help the government in attaining lasting and inclusive peace through their cooperation, unity, and non-support to the terrorist groups. He also urged them to inform their families, relatives, and friends who are still in the armed group about the livelihood programs of the government and to convince them to lay down their arms and return to mainstream society, Mariano added.

“I hope that with the continued programs and projects of the government, we will be able to finally convince the remaining members of the Communist Terrorist Group to abandon their armed struggle and return to the folds of the law,” 58th IB commander Lt. Col. Ricky L. Canatoy said.

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