By Francis Wakefield
Task Force Balik-Loob (TFBL) and Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) recently signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to enhance the financial capability of former rebels (FRs) and their families to start their lives anew.
In a statement, the Department of National Defense (DND) said the MOA was signed at the LBP Main Office in Malate, Manila on Thursday (December 13), for the facilitation of loans to FRs as part of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
The said MOA was signed by TFBL chairperson, Defense Undersecretary Reynaldo B. Mapagu, and LBP president and CEO Alex V. Buenaventura. It was witnessed by Army Col. Joel Q Mamon of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations (OJ7) and
Joselito P. Gutierrez, executive vice president for agricultural and development lending sector of LBP.
Under the lending program for FRs covered by the MOA, LBP may provide loans up to P100,000 to fund small and micro-enterprises, agriculture, and other means of livelihood.
FRs over the age of 21 who have no pending cases are qualified to avail of the loan program. Those disqualified due to age or have pending cases can designate a family member who will be listed as the borrower in their stead.
FRs can submit their loan applications to LBP lending units across the country, including proof of identification and certification from the joint AFP-PNP intelligence committee (JAPIC).
Aside from processing, evaluating and approving the loan applications of FRs based on their eligibility and lending parameters, LBP will also conduct loan counseling and financial literacy seminars to FRs prior to release of their loans.
In his speech, Mapagu thanked the Land Bank of the Philippines for supporting the government’s reintegration programs under the E-CLIP.
“The Landbank’s slogan: ‘We help you grow,’, now also encompasses former rebels who wish to increase their capacity in their chosen livelihood, empowering not only himself and his family, but also his community,” Mapagu said.
“With this signing of agreement, the Land Bank of the Philippines is a welcome addition to our list of partner agencies which will definitely have an important role in our peace and reintegration efforts for our former rebels,” the TFBL chair added.
Buenaventura, for his part, expressed full support for E-CLIP, saying that it is his personal desire to uplift the lives of former rebels and ensure they don’t end up living lives of poverty.
“We are happy to provide financing for some 5,000 FRs. Ang source ng lahat ng problema natin sa NPA ay kahirapan. I want to deal with the E-CLIP from that angle, to address the poverty of these people. I will think of our FRs and think of how our agribusiness companies can help employ them,” he said.
The lending program of Land Bank is now one of the benefits FRs can avail under the E-CLIP.
The 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 toward 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 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 and legal assistance, through a convergence of various national and local government agencies.
The TFBL was organized to oversee the implementation of E-CLIP pursuant to Administrative Order No. 10 of President Duterte. It includes DILG, Department of National Defense, Office of the President, National Housing Authority, and the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace 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.