KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato – Thirty-three former rebels (FR) in South Cotabato received P1.977 million in financial assistance and firearm remuneration from the government recently.
South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. and 27th Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. James Brisal Otida led the distribution of checks to the FRs in a ceremony at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Session Hall on July 17. It was attended by the members of the provincial E-CLIP committee.
Of the 33 FRs, 21 received P15,000 cash from the Provincial Government of South Cotabato.
“These are rebel returnees who surrendered from 2008 until 2011, when the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) was not yet in effect. They appealed to the provincial government to be considered as recipients of the reintegration assistance, thus, the P15,000 financial assistance belatedly given to them,” Haide Agustin, provincial social welfare and dvelopment officer, explained.
Data from the PSWDO also indicated that of the 33 FRs, 12 were enroled under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) and received immediate cash assistance, livelihood and reintegration financial aid and firearm remuneration from the Department of the Interior and Local Government with amounts ranging from P30,000 to as much as P558,000.
One beneficiary, a former squad leader, received P472,000 firearm remuneration, P65,000 livelihood and immediate assistance and P21,000 reintegration assistance. He told local media that during his surrender, he brought with him two M-16s and three other assorted high-powered firearms.
Another FR got P517,000, including P431,000 as remuneration of the high-powered firearms he surrendered to authorities.
In his message to the former combatants, Gov. Tamayo emphasized the government is working hard to address the concerns of its people for basic services.
“Tell your former comrades, there is no more reason to fight because the government provides all that you need and deserve,” Tamayo told the FRs. Earlier, he pointed out that the government has already made provisions for free education and health care and distributed lands to the landless, proof that the government is delivering its promise to provide needed services.
Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, Severino Samgal, president of the association former rebels in South Cotabato, thanked the Provincial Government of South Cotabato and the DILG for the support to the returnees.
He assured Gov. Tamayo and the other officials in attendance that the FRs in South Cotabato are committed to their pledge to remain loyal to the government. At present, their association has 137 FR members, Samgal added.
E-CLIP is a complete package of assistance to rebel returnees.
Under the E-CLIP program, FRs are not only assured of immediate financial assistance, livelihood assistance, and remuneration for firearms surrendered but can also benefit from temporary shelter while their enrolment to the program is being processed, PhilHealth enrolment, medical assistance from the Department of Health, housing assistance from the National Housing Authority, legal assistance and many other aids. (DED/PIA 12).