By Lilian Mellejor
DAVAO CITY – The government is allocating PHP450 million to the government’s Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) to accommodate more communist rebels who will surrender and avail of the program next year.DILG Secretary Eduardo Año, in a press conference at the Linmarr Apartelle on Monday, said the E-CLIP is designed to discourage rebels from going back to the armed struggle.
This year, the national government through the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) spent about PHP488 million for the E-CLIP covering almost 800 former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.
Aside from the E-CLIP benefits, Año said there are also other packages offered to former rebels by other government agencies like the Conditional Cash Transfer from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), educational assistance skills training by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and other immediate cash assistance and remuneration for firearms surrendered.
Año said former rebels will also be given a house and lot and the opportunity to work with the government.
He also noted that 15 cooperatives run by former rebels have been assisted by the government through E-CLIP.
The government has touted the E-CLIP as a successful come-on for insurgents to surrender and lead a new life outside the communist struggle.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that in Davao region alone from January to November 24 this year, there were already 790 NPA regulars who abandoned the armed struggle. Also, 20,000 members of Militia ng Bayan and underground organizations, as well as mass supporters have surrendered.
Lorenzana likewise noted the surrender of 745 firearms and recovery of 306 others during encounters.
Ten rebels who surrendered to the Police Regional Office (PRO)-12 on Monday and to the 1002nd Infantry Brigade last November 23 will be enrolled to the E-CLIP.
They were presented by the police and Army officials in a press conference at Linmarr Hotel.
One of them, 38-year-old Joaquin Mantang, was hopeful he would qualify to become a soldier. Mantang is a member of the T’Boli tribe of South Cotabato.
Mantang surrendered after six years of fighting against government forces. He was a squad leader of Guerilla Front 73 of the NPA’s Far South Region under a certain Commander Billy.
“Kapoy na sige ug gukod sa sundalo ug police (I am tired of running after the soldiers and the police,” he said in an interview.
Mantang admitted he was missing his wife and four children, all elementary school pupils. After his surrender, Mantang wished for his family to be safe.
Año, on the other hand, was hopeful all other rebels would surrender to the government.
“Hope that your other comrades will see the light in the government’s efforts to reach unto you through the localized peace initiatives and the E- CLIP program,” he said.
“I am telling you, your place is here with your family and with your community where you can live in peace and security.”
Meanwhile, National Security Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Hermogenes Esperon said more rebels have returned to the fold of the law with their firearms, an indication that they have seen the futility of the communist struggle.
“There is no direction on what they are doing in the Communist Party of the Philippines. They are also having a difficulty in their daily living inside the movement because their family is expanding, and their children have no direction in life,” he said.
Año, Lorenzana, Esperon and Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde are in Davao City for the joint Regional Peace and Order Council and National Peace and Order Council meeting at the Ritz Hotel. (PNA)
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