BALER, Aurora – At least 23 former rebels who recently surrendered to the authorities were given livelihood and financial assistance under the national government's Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
Lt. Col. Reandrew P. Rubio, commander of the Philippine Army’s 91st Infantry “Sinagtala” Battalion, said on Wednesday the 23 former rebels who belonged to the New People’s Army (NPA) and Milisyang Bayan (MB) of the communist terrorist group (CTG) received their assistance in a simple ceremony held at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Session hall, Barangay Suklayin, here on Tuesday.
Rubio said that 17 of the former rebels received PHP65,000 livelihood assistance each while the other six were given PHP15,000 each.
“The E-CLIP benefits given to our former rebels will be basically used for their livelihood programs. It is also a good start for their daily needs especially this time of Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic,” Rubio said in an interview.
Lawyer Ofelio A. Tactac, Jr., Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Aurora provincial director, lauded the former rebels for choosing peace and deciding to return to the fold of the law.
“Ang inyong pagbabalik ay bagong pag-asa. Ang pakikipaglaban ay walang maidudulot na mabuti, kung titingnan natin ang mga bansang nagkakagulo, walang nangyari, walang umasenso sa giyera. Kaya tama ang desisyon ninyo na makapagbagong buhay (Your return to the fold of the law is a new hope. Fighting will not do any good, if we look at the countries that are in turmoil, nothing has happened, no one has advanced in the war. So you made the right decision to change your life,” Tactac told the former rebels.
He cited poverty and ignorance as major reasons for joining the communist insurgency.
Governor Gerardo A. Noveras assured the 23 former rebels that the provincial government is always open to help them.
He also advised to spend the assistance given to them wisely, especially in this time of the pandemic, and expressed hope that the beneficiaries will honor their commitment to the government with respect.
He said the DILG, along with the 91st IB and the Aurora Police Provincial Office, is always ready to assist them.
The DILG is the lead agency in the implementation of the E-CLIP, which entitles a former rebel to receive immediate assistance of PHP15,000; PHP50,000 as livelihood assistance; PHP12,000 to PHP500,000 as firearms remuneration; half-way house assistance; PhilHealth enrollment and medical assistance; education assistance; housing assistance; legal assistance; and healing and reconciliation initiatives.
The reintegration assistance is being used for the subsistence or meal cost of former rebels who have been placed under the protection of government troops while processing their other benefits under the E-CLIP.
E-CLIP is one of the programs under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), a body created by President Rodrigo Duterte through Executive Order No. 70. (PNA)