By Jennifer C. Tilos
Governor Roel Degamo has assured the public that the provincial government is ready to assist rebels who would surrender and lay down their firearms.
In his year-end message, Gov. Degamo said the province is serious in providing livelihood or financial assistance to communist rebels who would return to mainstream society.
Last year, four rebel surrrenderers from the municipalities of Mabinay and Zamboanguita were given P65,000 each worth of financial assistance under the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
“As I said we cannot win peace by bullet and arm[ed] struggle, and the province has a roadmap for peace and order program that we follow” the governor cited.
For those rebel returnees who have already benefitted [from] our livelihood assistance to call on their families, relatives, and friends to help us convince them to go down from the mountains and take this life-changing opportunity, said Degamo.
The E-CLIP facilitates the mainstreaming of former NPA rebels and Militia ng Bayan to be productive citizens which also compensates and remunerates all turned-in firearms.
Meanwhile, the governor lamented the killing of six people during a series of police operations in the province late in December last year.
With this, the governor has called for an impartial investigation on the killing of the six civilians in what the police describe as a shootout.
Degamo requested the top management of the Philippine National Police that whenever a police operation to be conducted the police team has to coordinate and inform the provincial government, “We have a template to follow in terms of safety implementation,” he added.
“I believe the operations in Guihulngan City was legitimate because there were search warrants, but with six people killed, as a governor, it is my duty to protect the residents of the province,” Degamo said.
“If they are supporters of the New People’s Army then we will arrest them rather than kill[ed] them because it hurts others and creates friction, what had happened. they burned the heavy equipment in Ayungon town,” he added.
The governor expects that next police operations to be conducted, his office should be informed as he believes that coordination with each other is one approach for efficient and diplomatic moves.