By: Roi Lomotan
GUIHULNGAN CITY, Negros Oriental (PIA) – Four former rebels who recently returned to mainstream society received P65, 000 livelihood assistance from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPPAP), according to a report from the Philippine Army last Mar. 25.
The cash assistance was given to the former members of the rebel group New People’s Army (NPA) to ensure their successful reintegration to the society and improve their socio-economic status.
The former rebels will also undergo skills training seminar to help them gain their livelihood.
Said financial aid is part of OPAPP’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) for rebel returnees, according to Capt. Cresencio Gargar, Public Information Officer of the 302nd Brigade of the Philippine Army.
The P65, 000 cash assistance was coursed through the Ad Hoc Committee for Rebel Returnees and the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO).
Since 2011, 27 former rebels in Negros Oriental are recipients of CLIP’s livelihood assistance.
The money was given to the former rebels in a recent awarding ceremony last Mar. 23 at the Brgy. Tacpao Barangay hall in Guihulngan City.
Recipients of the cash assistance requested to keep their identities secret.
Local government officials who handed over the cash assistance to the former rebels were Provincial Social Welfare and Developent Officer Alicia Lagarde, Hazel Bantilo, OPAPP CLIP Coordinator, Col. Christopher Estella, Deputy Commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade, Lt. Col. Paulito Idul, 11th Infantry Battalion (IB) Commander and Mr. Angelo Tiongson representing Negros Oriental Gov. Roel R. Degamo.
On the other hand, Brigadier Gen. Francisco M. Patrimonio, 302nd Brigade Commander, believes the handover of cash assistance to former rebels is a big opportunity for them to start a new life in the community.
“This offers a big opportunity for our long lost brothers and sisters to start a new life with a bright future ahead for their families. It is also a chance for them to pursue the right path and be part in building a better community instead of fighting with the government authorities,” Gen. Patrimonio said.
Aside from CLIP financial aid by the OPAPP, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also offers cash incentives to rebels who abandon armed struggle and surrender their high-caliber firearms to government troops under their Guns for Peace Program.
The allocation of cash incentives depend on the type of firearms surrendered by former NPA members: P40,000 for M203 grenade launchers; P50,000 for COLT M16 rifle; P60,000 for M14 rifle; and P200,000 for light machine guns.
The Philippine Army continues to invite rebels to lay down their arms and live peacefully with the community.
Meanwhile, the 302nd Brigade Medical and Dental Team, in cooperation with the 11th IB, City Government of Guihulngan and the medical team from the provincial government, conducted a medical mission for 200 residents of Brgy. Tacpao last March 24.
The event is a program of Guihulngan City Mayor Carlo Jorge Joan L. Reyes to deliver basic services to the residents of the city especially those living in hinterland areas. (rmn/RAL/PIA7-NEGOR)