By Francis Wakefield
Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana over the weekend underscored President Rodrigo Duterte’s sincere desire to assist former rebels (FRs) and their families in the process of social healing and reconciliation towards attaining peace and national unity.
Lorenzana made the remark as he addressed 45 Former Rebels (FRs) of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) who received financial assistance under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) in
Oroquieta City, Misamis Occidental on Saturday.
“Taos puso ang kagustuhan ng pangulo na matulungan kayo (The president is very sincere in helping all of you),” Lorenzana said, adding that aside from financial assistance, they will also be given technical education, skills training, livelihood opportunities and other forms of benefits such as healthcare, education and housing from various national and local government agencies, including local government units, under the Task Force Balik-Loob (TFBL).
Lorenzana also told them he is happy that they will get to spend their Christmas happily with their loving families. He encouraged them to call on to their former comrades to return to the fold of the law and be active partners in pursuing peace for the sake of the country.
“Tulungan niyo kaming hikayatin at kumbinsihin ang ilan pang mga miyembro ng Communist Terrorist Group na bumaba na at tuluyang itakwil ang armadong pakikibaka, lalo pa ngayon na parating na ang kapaskuhan at panahon para makabalik at makasama ang kanilang mga pamilya (Help us in convincing other Communist Terrorist Group to come down and to finally turn back the armed struggle, especially with Christmas fast approaching),” he said.
Each FR received P65,000 comprising immediate and livelihood assistance worth P15,000 and P50,000, respectively, from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) represented by Assistant Secretary for Barangay Affairs Rosque B. Calacat in a ceremony organized by the provincial E-CLIP committee chaired by Misamis Occidental Gov. Herminia M. Ramiro.
The provincial government was assisted by the 10th and 102nd Infantry Brigade under the 1st Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.
All the 45 FRs are now undergoing a 21-day E-CLIP reintegration which is being facilitated by the 10th Infantry Brigade.
Now on their seventh day, the FRs have had orientations and evaluations for the Alternative Learning System (ALS) under the Department of Education (DepEd), application for government issued IDs such as postal IDs, police clearances and Community Tax Certificates under the supervision of the Provincial Social Welfare Development Office (PSWDO), medical and dental examination, moral recovery program, and family therapy and counseling. organic chicken production was also taught to the FRs, with additional funding from DepEd.
A Happy Home (Halfway House), designed by the 547 Engineering Battalion, was inaugurated on September 7, 2018. In addition, a multipurpose hall for FRs was also constructed, from the donation of Rep. Henry S. Oaminal.
According to Lt. Col. Ryan N. Severo, INF (GSC) PA, 10IB commander, the implementation of the E-CLIP is challenging, but the cooperation from the members of the E-CLIP committee of Misamis Occidental made it successful.
For her part, Ramiro acknowledged the presence of national leaders and representatives of various government agencies which are part of the Task Force, and thanked them for the success of the province’s reintegration efforts.
Two of the FRs, Ka Manman and Ka Janjan, shared their testimonies on why they decided to yield to the government. Ka Manman mentioned that the longing for their families during his time with the rebels compounded by the hardships, fear and anxieties they experienced as their reasons for surrendering. He was part of the first 26 FRs who returned to the society, making the total number of Misamis Occidental FRs 71.
On the other hand, Ka Janjan was part of the second batch of surrenderees and said they were influenced by their comrades who were part of the first batch.
FRs took the Oath of Allegiance administered by DILG Misamis Occidental provincial director Pablo L. Benitez, Jr.
Maj. Gen. Roseller G. Murillo, commander of the 1st Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, thanked Ramiro and other peace stakeholders and partners in the entire Misamis Occidental for being active in implementing the E-CLIP, emphasizing that “peace and security” are a shared responsibility of each and every Filipino, and of all communities.
E-CLIP is the flagship program of the Duterte administration that seeks to effect social healing and national unity through a whole-of-nation approach toward the higher objective of having just and lasting peace. It provides social equity to former members of the CPP-NPA-NDF and the Militia ng Bayan by devising a different modality of providing benefits and services to the FRs, to reintegrate them into mainstream society. These benefits do not serve as an end, but rather a means to aid the FRs in securing a foothold in restarting their lives.
Unlike previous government rebel reintegration programs, the E-CLIP provides a wider array of benefits based on the particular needs of FRs and their families such as financial assistance, housing, education, skills training, healthcare and legal assistance through a convergence of various national and local government agencies.
The TFBL was organized to oversee the implementation of E-CLIP pursuant to Administrative Order No. 10 of President Duterte. It includes DILG, Department of National Defense, Office of the President, National Housing Authority, and the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace among its lead agencies, and other government agencies and instrumentalities as partner agencies that may be tapped to provide additional benefits and services to FRs.