By Chito Chavez
Describing them as “disillusioned,” Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Año urged New People’s Army (NPA) members to rejoin mainstream society.
The call was made as Año guaranteed “the government will never abandon you as the Communists did.”
“That is the harsh truth. Walang pakialam ang NPA sa kapakanan ng kanilang mga miyembro (The NPA does not care about its members). They are just mere dispensable pawns in the CPP-NPA-NDF’s senseless advocacy to overthrow the government through armed struggle,” Año said.
He reiterated the administration will never abandon them, assuring that ample care will be provided for their families if they decide to return to the fold of the law.
In the recent Senate hearing, a certain Alem, a former NPA regular, together with other former rebels (FRs), explained in detail their experiences with the rebel group, and, how they were later on abandoned.
An emotional Alem went as far as saying that she never received any help from her supposed “comrades” when she was about to give birth.
“These stories only substantiate NPA’s deceitfulness and lies. Mga estudyante pa lamang ang mga ito nung na-recruit nila, sinira nila ang kinabukasan (They were still students when they were recruited. Their future were destroyed). Now that they decide to return to the fold of the law, we will guarantee that they will not feel abandoned,” Año added.
The DILG chief noted that “we need to strengthen our laws so that government can put an end to active Communist recruitment in schools, factories, and among farmers’’.
He explained further with the goal of achieving sustainable peace and security through Executive Order No. 70, the government believes that convincing the rebels to surrender can be a viable tool to put an end to communist-terrorism in the country, with the assurance that they will be taken cared of through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
Año stressed that E-CLIP will ensure that all former rebels (FRs) will be granted assistance that can help them somehow regain the years in the mountains that the NPA have taken from them.
Under the E-CLIP grant, FRs or their qualified beneficiaries are entitled to benefits ranging from guaranteed safety and security; monetary assistance such as a P50,000 as livelihood assistance, P21,000 for meals cost as FR is in the custody of Receiving Unit and other expenses, and P15,000 per FR for mobilization expenses; and firearms remuneration amounting to the value of turned-in firearms, among others.
Año noted that for 2020, a total of P121-million fund for E-CLIP was requested from DBM “to further encourage current rebels who wish to cut ties with the communist-terrorist group and live a normal life.”
Based on the report of DILG, there are 2,129 FRs (1,505 NPA and 624 Militia ng Bayan) that were provided with benefits and assistance through E-CLIP from the 2018 and 2019 budget.
“We are allotting millions of pesos for our FRs for we believe in reconciliation and redemption. Itong mga dating rebelde na ito ay naghahangad lang na bumawi at bawiin ang dati nilang mga buhay bago ito sirain ng NPA (These former rebels want to restore their fomer lives before they were disillusioned by the NPA)” Año said.
He reported that 1,939 FRs were granted with immediate financial assistance amounting to P29-million; 1,433 with livelihood assistance amounting to P71.6-million; 1,714 with reintegration assistance amounting to P35.9-million; and 407 with firearm remuneration with a total amount of P28.9-million.