01 February 2019, Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, QC - “The year 2018 was a very productive year for Task Force Balik-Loob. Through the diligent efforts of our lead and partner agencies, the Task Force was able to positively change the lives of our fellow Filipinos who have been led astray by the deceptive recruitment and lies of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army- National Democratic Front. More importantly, we were able to spark hope in the hearts of those who have lost faith in the government.”
These were the words of Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana as he lauded the success of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) for former rebels (FRs) during its first monthly inter-agency meeting here, with all lead and partner agencies convened.
In just five months since the program commenced in July 2018, a total of 1,437 former rebels were given financial assistance worth PhP116,453,488.00 under the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) administered by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) through their provincial offices as of January 23, 2019.
In addition to the financial assistance package awarded to FRs, the DILG also financially assisted 32 provinces and five highly urbanized cities (HUCs) for the construction of their respective halfway houses worth Php5-million each, for a total of PhP185,000,000.00. A halfway house serves as a transition shelter for FRs where rehabilitation and healing sessions, education and skills training activities, among others, are facilitated by local social welfare and development officers and local government agency representatives. Among the provinces which have existing halfway houses are Davao Oriental, Masbate and Mountain Province. In addition, the province of Sarangani already had a groundbreaking for its own halfway house.
For its part, the National Housing Authority (NHA) awarded 685 Certificates of Entitlement in Region XI, of which 412 are already being processed. It has likewise processed the grant of housing units to 31 former rebels at the Freedom Residences in Tagum City, and awarded checks to four FRs representing housing assistance.
Under the Payapa at Masaganang Pamanayanan (PAMANA) Program, another main component of the E-CLIP, the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace Process disbursed a total of PhP1,428,250,000.00 for the construction of 15 roads and bridges in areas affected by the communist terrorist group in Mindanao.
As for assistance administered by TFBL-partner agencies, 645 FRs underwent skills training from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) while 249 benefitted from the Integrated Livelihood Program of the Department of Labor and Employment. Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development also provided various assistance to 700 FRs and the Department of Trade and Industry assisted 226 FRs under its Livelihood Seeding Program.
On the part of the Department of Agrarian Reform, seven FRs who are farmers were awarded Certificate of Land Allocation, breaking the record for the swift processing and warding of the grants, beating the deadline set by President who personally gave assurance to the FRs concerned. Related to this, Secretary Lorenzana shared the stories narrated to him by FRs about how they were deceived into believing that they will have their own land once they join the communist group, only to find out that the land that was promised to them belongs to a legitimate owner.
Recalling how the E-CLIP came about, Secretary Lorenzana said President Duterte’s objective for the program was clear. It is to create an impact on the lives of former rebels (FRs) by providing all out government assistance and resources for their complete reintegration and transformation into self-reliant, law-abiding peace-loving and productive members of the society, and formidable partners of the government in promoting just and lasting peace, national reconciliation and unity.
Adding to the growing number of government agencies that are providing FRs with a foothold to start a new life, the Landbank entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with TFBL for a Lending Program for Former Rebels last December 13, 2018. Qualified FRs may avail up to Php100,000.00 loan grant from LBP, for a minimal interest and easy repayment conditions. Assistant Vice President Edgardo S. Luzano said this program is Landbank’s way of “helping former rebels grow” and manifesting the government’s full trust in them.
Meanwhile, TESDA shared its Value Chain Programming concept expanding on the strategy of sustainability, to illustrate how to integrate skills development training to actual application on livelihood and employment. The added loan access from Landbank will guarantee that the program will not only be doable but sustainable as well.
For his part, TFBL Chairperson Reynaldo B. Mapagu said that though the E-CLIP uses the non-kinetic approach to counter communist insurgency, it is nonetheless envisioned as the most powerful method of defeating communist insurgency, providing the government with quick wins by hitting three birds with one stone: prevent bloodshed on the side of rebels and government forces, erase the stigma of being a former rebel by emphasizing their positive role in society, and encourage more surrenderees until the communist movement collapses.
“Ito kasi yung programa na gagastos nga tayo pero in the long run, dito tayo sa programang ito makakatipid. Tayong lahat, makikinabang sa peace dividends. Maiiwasan na natin ang patayan, makakaiwan pa tayo ng legacy. God willing, if we end insurgency, it will be a lasting legacy not only of the President but everybody who has helped,” Usec. Mapagu said.
Presiding the inter-agency meeting was Undersecretary Bernardo M. Florece of the DILG. He directed the TFBL Secretariat to harmonize and further polish policies in guidelines on program implementation in coordination with the agencies concerned, for a faster and more seamless provision of assistance to FRs and their families. He also assured the body that the DILG will issue a memorandum to provincial government units and HUCs to submit their complete line-up of E-CLIP Committees to endure the line of authority, responsibility and accountability in terms of ensuring the welfare and well-being of FRs in the local level. Usec. Florence also suggested that incentives and recognition be given to LGUs which have best implemented the E-CLIP in their localities, gauging from the impact they have created in the lives of the FRs they have assisted.
Other attendees included representatives from partner and lead agencies of the Task Force such as the Presidential Managements Staff, Office of the President, National Housing Authority, Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace Process, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Health, Department of Justice, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Land Bank of the Philippines, Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Agriculture.
Thanking the attendees for sharing President Duterte’s passion and dedication to improve the plight of former rebels through social equity, Secretary Lorenzana said, “Hinihiling ko sa bawat isa na tayo ay sama-samang kumilos para isang nagkakaisa at payapang sambayanan tungo sa maunlad na kinabukasan ng bayan.”
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