TACLOBAN CITY – At least 27 former rebels (FR) in Leyte province received financial assistance on Tuesday from the government through the Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
Of the total, 23 of them are from Carigara, three from Hilongos, and one from San Isidro town.
Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla, Carigara Mayor Eduardo Ong, 802nd Brigade Commander Brig. Gen. Zosimo Oliveros and other key provincial government officials led the distribution in Carigara town.
Nine of the FRs received PHP75,000 each while 18 received PHP25,000 each. An additional PHP50,000 were also awarded to those who yielded with firearms.
Pilar (not her real name), a former finance officer of the New People's Army (NPA), said the assistance given to them by the government will help them a lot in starting a new life.
“This only shows that the government is the only one who can help us to have a better life,” Pilar said, speaking on behalf of the E-CLIP recipients.
E-CLIP is a government program that aims to reintegrate former rebels back to the community with their families and start a normal life.
“When I surrendered, I thought it was the end of my life. I felt useless, but the military from the 802nd Brigade and the 14th IB (Infantry Battalion) assured me of the government’s assistance. The government is here to help me start a new life with my family with my children,” she added.
Being poor farmers made them vulnerable to NPA’s deceptive recruitment, Pilar said.
“But in reality, they cannot help us. Farmers remain poor and our problem of poverty remained unsolved. It is only the government that can help us,” she added.
Petilla said Pilar’s story is very important to the government so that they would know and can implement proper interventions and program to end the insurgency problem.
Petilla said when he decided to run for governor, he visited various places in the province and had talked with residents whom he later learned were either former NPA members or supporters.
“That is why we implemented the livelihood program to give solutions to the economic complaints and problem on depress communities. If poverty is the problem, the government should address it, after all the government is not owned by a person who is in the position but by the people who voted for us to rule,” Petilla added.
Ong in his message requested the FR to help in convincing other rebels still with the NPA to surrender.
“We can't address the problem of insurgency by relying on military action alone. We also need to help them, if you can persuade others to surrender it will be better. We need cooperation and coordination to end the insurgency problem in our town and our country,” he added.
The NPA, which has been waging a five-decade armed struggle against the government, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)