By Chito Chavez
Some P171.6 million of financial aid was given to 2,862 rebel surrenderers for turning themselves into the government with the promise to become lawful and productive citizens of the republic.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said the financial package provided to former Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) members was in recognition of their decision to lay down their arms under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) from July 2018 to Nov. 2019.
Based on data of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-National Barangay Operations Office, of the 2,882 former rebels (FRs), 2,635 were granted immediate assistance and 1,788 received livelihood assistance, while 655 got firearms remuneration, a total of P 171.6-million in assistance through E-CLIP from July 2018 to November 2019.
“The Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army are now hurting as [their] ranks have been decimated by the huge number of surrenderers since July last year,” DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said.
E-CLIP is a peace-building and social protection program that provides interventions to former NPA rebels and Militia ng Bayan (MB) toward transforming them into productive citizens of society.
In a media forum on Wednesday, DILG Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan E. Malaya said millions of pesos are earmarked to ensure that FRs are able to transition to normalcy with ease and most importantly, that their needs and livelihood are prioritized.
He noted that in the General Appropriations Act of 2020, a total of P260 million in funds for E-CLIP was earmarked “to further the cause of encouraging current rebels to renounce their lives as enemies of the state and live a normal life.”
Under the E-CLIP grant, FRs or their qualified beneficiaries are entitled to benefits including guaranteed safety and security and various forms of monetary assistance including P50,000 as livelihood assistance, P21,000 for meals and other expenses while the FR is in the custody of the Receiving Unit, P15,000 per FR for mobilization expenses, and firearms remuneration amounting to the value of turned-in firearms.
“E-CLIP will be here to assist rebels who want to change the story of their lives, those who want to abandon the hostility of armed conflicts,” Malaya said.
Services down to the grassroots
Malaya said despite the government’s success in capturing terrorists and aiding rebel surrenderers, “education and ensuring that the services of the government reach the fringes of the society down to the far-flung areas” are still the potent mechanisms for fighting Communist terrorist groups (CTGs) in the country.
He said that CTGs recruitment target the most vulnerable sectors, those that the government is finding hard to reach. This can be countered by education and awareness coupled with consistent government services by means of programs such as the Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP).
RCSP is the government’s primary program at the grassroots level to combat the activities of the CTGs. It is focused on giving solutions to socio-economic and cultural problems.
“They must know that their government will never forsake them and that assistance and services will be granted to them. Napakahalaga na malaman nila ang mga ito (It is very important that they know this),” Año said.
He explained that the RCSP is an inclusive program that is addressing identified issues of the community by closing the governance and development gaps through the provision of needed government programs and projects.
Malaya also noted that in line with the RCSP, the Capacitating Urban Communities for Peace and Development (CUCPD) program was simultaneously launched in various cities in Metro Manila last Nov. 19 to implement RCSP in areas identified as “white areas” or urban cities where CTGs focus their propaganda against the government.
“CUCPD is programmed to counter propaganda, halt recruitment, and promote national healing through development-oriented programs for various sectors like the urban poor, students, and professionals,” Malaya said.