Friday, January 31, 2020

Rebel returnees in NegOr start new life thru E-CLIP

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jan 31, 2020): Rebel returnees in NegOr start new life thru E-CLIP (By Jennifer C. Tilos and Roi Anthoni Lomotan)

Four ex-NPA rebels in Negros Oriental were given financial assistance under the government’s E-CLIP led by Gov. Roel Degamo (4th from left) with Usec. Reynaldo Mapagu, chair of the Task Force Balik Loob of the Department of National Defense (DND) in a turnover ceremony held at the Provincial Convention Center, Dumaguete City on March 5, 2019. (File photo/JCT/PIA7-NegOr)

George (not his real name), was recruited at age 15 by members of the Communist New People’s Army in the hinterland town of Mabinay, Negros Oriental.

“Ang ingon nila namon, tagaan mig trabaho, may libreng pabalay, wala ra miy bayran (We were told that we would be employed and there would be free housing that we would not pay),” he says.

George was one of at least four former young rebels from the municipalities of Mabinay and Zamboanguita who surrendered to authorities last year after being heavily exploited by the communist group. The four surrenderees received financial assistance totaling to P78,000 each under the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

Now 17, George along with his male comrades aged 21 and 24 years old including a young mother, 26, who has two kids share their ordeals during the time they lived in the mountains. The three male recruits confirmed they were each provided with M4 rifles and ordered to burn heavy equipment owned by a road contractor. They were also made to go house to house asking for rice.

The local government officials here recognized the former rebels’ decision to return to mainstream society and formally welcomed them back to mainstream society.

After coming back to the folds of the government, each of the four rebel returnees received P78,000 representing P15,000 cash and check of P50,000 livelihood aid plus an additional P10,000 as the personal support of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and P3,000 from the province's assistance to individuals in crisis situation (AICS).

Aside from this, the recipients were oriented on various socio-economic skills as part of their re-integration to the community. They also received poultry and livestock from the provincial government as livelihood assistance so they can start their lives anew.

Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office Officer in Charge Rosa Emilia Banquerigo, who leads a team with officers from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to monitor the status of the former rebels after they received the assistance, says the ex-rebels’ lives have have improved with the assistance given to them. The four former rebels used a portion of the assistance they received from the government to improve their homes.

They also chose to raise cattle as a new form of livelihood after each of them bought one carabao and one cow with the money given to them. Moreover, some of them also used a portion of the financial assistance they received to send their younger siblings to elementary and high school. But more importantly, the four rebel returnees now have a deeper appreciation of the government.

“Nag-expect man gyud sila na dili motagad (ang gobyerno) pero opposite diay. Matabangan pa gyud sila financially so happy na sila (They were expecting that the government does not look after the welfare of its citizens but they realized it was the opposite. They also learned that the government can provide financial assistance to them. They are happy),” Banquerigo shares.

“Among dakong pasalamat sa gobyerno pagtabang kanamo kay pigado gid mi ang amon pamilya mao na napugos mi pag kuyog sang grupo ng NPA (We are very grateful to the government for helping us. Our families are so poor that we’re forced to join the group of NPA),” says Job, 24 (not his real name).

According to Banquerigo, one of the E-CLIP beneficiaries who goes by the alias “Happy”, is now being processed for enrollment in the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). This will help Happy augment his income and send his children to school.

Former Commander of Central command of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Lt. Gen. Noel Clement says the former rebels were victims of the Communist Terrorist Groups’ (CTGs) "deceptive strategy. "Instead of being in school and taking care of their family, they were tricked to join the combat in the mountains," he says.

The governor has called on other NPA members to surrender to the authorities and take advantage of the government's programs. E-CLIP is one of the flagship programs of the Duterte administration that seeks to address social healing and national unity towards the higher objective of having just and lasting peace.

It aims to provide social equity to former members of the NPA, CPP, National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and the Militia ng Bayan to reintegrate them into mainstream society. (jct/ral/PIA NegOr)

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