28 March 2019, Agusan del Sur — A total of forty-nine (49) former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDFP) received benefits under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), through the awarding ceremony led by the 401st Infantry Brigade (401 Bde) and the 4th Infantry Division (4ID) yesterday at Camp Datu Lipus Makapandong, Brgy. Awa, Agusan del Sur.
The former rebels (FRs) came from different provinces: forty-six (46) from Agusan del Sur; two (2) for Davao Oriental; and one (1) from Compostela Valley. Nineteen (19) out of the 49 came from Pulang Bagani Command (PBC) 3, a homogenous unit that surrendered last 25 December 2018. The FRs received immediate assistance, livelihood assistance, and firearms remuneration from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), as well as food packs from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Other assistance such as housing from the National Housing Authority, PhilHealth IDs, and skills training are still on the process.
The event started with a Groundbreaking Ceremony of Halfway House graced by BGen Andres C Centino, Commander, 401Bde and was followed by the presentation of E-CLIP background with Provincial Director Arleen Ann R. Sanchez of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). Director Sanchez highlighted the importance of halfway house as an integral part of the program.
One of the FRs, “Ka Nestor”, shared his experiences as to why he chose to lay down his arms. He highlighted the hardships they experienced in the mountain, which made him decide to surrender his whole unit last Christmas. He also expressed his gratitude to the government for accepting and giving them a chance to go back to society and their families. Ka Nestor encouraged his former comrades who are still fighting in the hinterlands to surrender and live peacefully with their families, friends, and loved ones.
As the invited guest of honor, ASec Alexander L. Macario of the DILG congratulated the provincial government of Agusan del Sur for seriously implementing the localized peace initiatives that resulted to the surrender of NPAs and supporters in the province. He explained that though President Rodrigo Roa Duterte have already ended the formal peace talks, with the CPP-NPA-NDFP, the government is still accepting surrenderees and E-CLIP implementation remains unhampered. He also appealed to the community to accept the FRs as they return to the mainstream society, encouraging everyone to work for peace and make Mindanao not only a “land of promise”, but a “land of reality.”
“Bisan pa man ug permanente na nga gihuman sa atong mahal nga Presidente nga si Rordigo R. Duterte ang national peace talks kang Joma Sison ug sa CPP-NPA, wala kini nagpasabot nga gisaraduhan na sa atong gobyerno ang pultahan sa atong mga kababayang Filipino nga nisanib sa laing pwersa. In fact, kining atong gihimo karong adlawa maoy usa ka konkreto nga pagpakita nga andam ug tagana sa gihapon ang atong kagamhanan nga modawat sa tanan nga mga ningdesisyon nga monaug sa kabukiran, talikdan ang ilang mga gipaglaban, mobalik sila pagpuyo sa kapatagan, ug manumpa nga mosuporta na sa atong gobyerno.” (Even though our beloved Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte has declared the permanent termination of the national peace talks with Joma Sison and the CPP-NPA-NDF, it does not mean that the government is already closing its doors to peace. In fact, today’s activity is a concrete testament that the government is still very much willing to accept and support those who have decided to come down from the mountains, go back to mainstream society, and pledge support to the government.)
Agusan del Sur Governor Adolph Edward Plaza also thanked and lauded the 401Bde and 4ID for their efforts in maintaining peace and stability in the province. He encouraged the FRs to avail of other benefits offered by the government, and advised them to spend the financial assistance they received into something that can alleviate their lives from poverty, such as investing in agricultural or agro-industrial businesses.
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 towards 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, in order 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, legal assistance, and among others through a convergence of various national and local government agencies.
Established pursuant to Administrative Order No. 10 of President Duterte, the TFBL includes the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of National Defense, Office of the President, National Housing Authority and the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace Process as 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.