Army builds halfway house for former rebels

Philippine Army troopers continue to facilitate the building of a halfway house for former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Zamboanga Del Sur.

At almost 65 percent completion, the P5-million halfway house is located inside the 16-hectare military reservation of Camp Major David P. Sabido in Barangay Poblacion, Guipos, Zamboanga Del Sur.

The halfway house is a joint project of the Provincial Government of Zamboanga Del Sur, Philippine Army’s 53rd Infantry (MATAPAT) Battalion (53IB), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Funded by the DILG through the Task Force Balik Loob, the halfway house will serve as the former rebels’ temporary shelter while processing documentary requirements as they avail of the benefits and assistance from the government under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

The halfway house is also intended for livelihood programs, education, and skills enhancement of the former rebels while they are prepared to go back to mainstream society.

“The halfway house is where you will stay to let you feel that the government is concerned to do projects for the people,” said Zamboanga Del Sur Governor Victor Yu,  Chairperson of the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC).

Gov. Yu also reiterated the significance of peace and the cooperation of every people in order to attain progress in the province.

Yu also said that the Provincial Government of Zamboanga del Sur is ready to give incentives to those NPAs still in the hinterlands who are willing to lay down their arms.

Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, 53IB Commanding Officer, said the Battalion will welcome surrenderees with open arms.

“The government has many programs laid for the [former] rebels. All they need to do is lay down their arms, cooperate, and return to the folds of the law,” Lt. Col. Herrera said.

Before the halfway house was conceived, a temporary shelter for former rebels called the “Sphinx Barracks” was provided by the office of Zamboanga Del Sur 1st District Representative Divina Grace Yu, 53IB, and 547th Engineer Battalion of the Philippine Army.

The said temporary halfway house was constructed and formally inaugurated on February 03, 2019, consisting of 3 bedrooms, 2 comfort rooms, and a receiving area that serves as the ‘new found home’ for the former rebels.

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