AFP to NPA rebels: Return to the fold, avail of government aid

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) urged New People’s Army (NPA) rebels and their supporters to abandon the armed struggle and return to the fold of the law.

With the recent announcement that President Rodrigo R. Duterte is permanently terminating the peace talks with the communist rebels, the AFP would persuade the rebels to surrender and avail of the government’s livelihood assistance, and not just focus on armed engagements, AFP Public Affairs Office Chief, Col. Noel Detoyato said.

“We have troops addressing the armed groups and the local government units are also helping in the promotion and conduct of local peace talks,” Detoyato said in an article published by the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

“But now that it is formally declared by the President, the AFP will be relentless in pursuing the armed groups not only with arms but with offers for them to abandon the armed struggle and avail of the benefits offered by Task Force ‘Balik Loob’ and the counterpart benefits from the local government units,” Detoyato said.

Task Force “Balik Loob” is the government body tasked to implement the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), a community-based national program to address the security, economic, social, and psychological rehabilitation needs of former members the Communist Party of the Philippines – NPA – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and the Militia ng Bayan.

Among the benefits and other forms of assistance given to beneficiaries are safety and security, PHP15,000 in immediate assistance, PHP21,000 to defray the subsistence or meals cost, support for relocation, security for the former rebels and his/ family, PHP50,000 in livelihood assistance, temporary shelter, PhilHealth enrollment, medical assistance package, housing assistance and/or housing unit, modified Conditional Cash Transfer, legal assistance, livelihood materials, healing and reconciliation initiatives, and any additional assistance.

Detoyato said Executive Order (EO) 70, which institutionalized a whole-of-nation approach in attaining peace and created a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, would address the void left by the termination of the peace talks with the communist rebels.

“The local and international sources of funds fueling the armed rebellion and the groups fronting for them are now being addressed. With this, we are confident that this 50-year-old (CPP founder Jose Maria ‘Joma’) Sison-induced insurgency is nearing its irreversible downward trend going towards irrelevance,” Detoyato said.

President Duterte officially announced on March 21, 2019, the permanent termination of the peace negotiations with the CPP-NPA-NDF during the 122nd Philippine Army founding anniversary in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

The President said he would no longer entertain “any interventions or maybe persuasions in this democratic state of the Republic of the Philippines” and mentioned the government’s preference for localized peace engagements.

The NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. (Priam Nepomuceno, PNA)

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