ISULAN, Sultan Kudarat – Secretary Benjamin ‘Benhur’ Abalos Jr. of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) expressed optimism on Monday that more violent extremists will come out and surrender to bring about peace in the southern Philippines.
Abalos personally welcomed 50 members of the extremist Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) back to the fold of the law in Sultan Kudarat and promised to extend government support under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
“The government under President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. remains committed to its peace and order initiatives. I am glad the 50 former extremists chose the road to peace,” he said.
Maj. Gen. Roy Galido, Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander, Brig. Gen. Jimili Macaraeg, the Police Regional Office – Soccsksargen (PRO-12) director, and Sultan Kudarat Gov. Pax Ali Mangudadatu presented the 50 former members of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) to Abalos during ceremonies held at the Sultan Kudarat stadium here on Nov. 17.
Abalos said all 50 BIFF surrenderers, upon proper documentation, can be eligible to receive government support under the E-CLIP initiative.
“Rest assured that your government will work for your welfare in response to your decision to lay down guns,” he said.
He said the DILG field office in Sultan Kudarat is continually coordinating with the local government to ensure that the former violent extremists (FVEs) will be granted due support as they join the mainstream society.
By surfacing and returning to the fold of the law, Abalos said the FVEs, former communist rebels, and militia members can take advantage of E-CLIP’s assistance.
The assistance covers livelihood, education, housing, and medical aid; receive monetary remuneration for each firearm surrendered; and other social services crucial to their reintegration into society.
Under the E-CLIP initiative, Abalos said 611 former rebels and their families received a total of PHP45.79 million in financial and livelihood assistance since July this year.
A report from DILG-12 showed that 47 of the FVEs received a collective amount of PHP540,000 wherein 15 received PHP20,000 each; 16 with PHP10,000 each; and another 16 with PHP5,000 each from the Sultan Kudarat provincial government under the "Kakep Ka Su Kalilintad (Embracing the Peace) campaign.
Three of the FVEs were not able to attend the event.
Food packs consisting of rice, assorted canned goods and instant noodles packs were also distributed to the surrenderers,
“Coming next is the help through the E-CLIP,” Abalos said as he thanked the Sultan Kudarat provincial government for the assistance.
He said close monitoring of the FVEs shall be conducted to ensure proper utilization of government livelihood and financial assistance.
The FVEs turned in assorted high-powered firearms, a crew-served mortar weapon, and improvised explosive devices prior to the conduct of the ceremony. (PNA)