Saturday, July 14, 2018

12 ex-NPA rebels from Sarangani get financial aid

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 13): 12 ex-NPA rebels from Sarangani get financial aid

Twelve former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels from Sarangani province and neighboring areas received some P780,000 worth of financial assistance on Thursday from the government’s enhanced reintegration program.

Defense Undersecretary Reynaldo Mapagu personally handed over the assistance to the returnees in a simple ceremony held at the Kasfala Hall of the Sarangani provincial capitol in Alabel town.

Mapagu said the move is in fulfillment of the national government’s commitment to help former rebels as they return to normal lives.

The financial assistance is part of the support packages that may be availed by returning rebels under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), he said.

The beneficiaries received PHP65,000 each or PHP15,000 as immediate assistance and PHP50,000 as livelihood grant. Among them was former NPA-Far South Mindanao or Valentin Palamine Command spokesperson Noel Legaspi, alias Ka Efren.

Legaspi and his wife Wendy surrendered voluntarily in South Cotabato last January after serving the rebel movement for 26 years.

Mapagu, who chairs the Task Force Balik-Loob, reiterated that the national government remains committed to assist rebels who want to surrender and return to the folds of the law.

Through the E-CLIP, he said the government has expanded the support programs that may be availed by returning rebels.

“Aside from financial assistance, we have set a range of services from government agencies that they may access,” the military official said.

Mapagu said they have set convergence programs for the former rebels as provided for in Administrative Order No. 10, series of 2018.

The participating agencies include the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, National Housing Authority, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Philippine Health Insurance Corp., Department of Education, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Justice.

Mapagu said they are hoping that more NPA rebels will give up arms, especially recruits from tribal communities that reportedly comprise the bulk of NPA fighters in Mindanao.

Mapagu also lauded the provincial government of Sarangani for addressing the needs of the area’s tribal communities and supporting the E-CLIP.

The provincial government is currently working on the establishment of a halfway house for former rebels in Alabel, allocating some P1.5 million for the acquisition of the property as counterpart to the project.

The DILG earlier released a P5 million grant to the local government for the development of the facility, and committed an additional P2 million to facilitate the construction of the administration building within the compound.

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