At least 53 former members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) from parts of Sarangani province received livelihood and financial assistance on August 7, 2020, through the government’s reintegration program.
Lt. Col. Ronaldo Valdez, commanding officer of the Army’s 73rd Infantry Battalion, said the former guerillas received immediate financial assistance and livelihood grants as set under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP).
The grants, which are part of the program’s initial assistance package, consist of PHP65,000 for each recipient, with PHP50,000 allotted for the livelihood assistance and PHP15,000 for the initial financial aid.
Valdez said the returnees were mostly former members of the NPA’s Guerilla Front 71 (Tala) -Far South Mindanao Region who have surrendered to troops in the municipalities of Alabel, Malapatan, Malungon, and Glan since January.
“We immediately processed their enrollment into the ECLIP and they eventually qualified for the assistance,” he said during a simple ceremony held at the Pacman beach resort in Barangay Tinoto, Maasim town on Friday morning.
Valdez said the released grants were on top of the incentives the former rebels would receive under the firearms remuneration program.
Sarangani lone district Rep. Ruel Pacquiao, who graced the event, distributed an unspecified amount to each of the returnees as additional assistance, released through the Ronda Probinsya component of the province’s Kalinaw (peace) program.
Pacquiao assured that his office would continue to find ways to assist the needs of the returnees as they return to their communities and lead normal lives.
He said poverty should not be a reason for residents to get lured into joining the NPA and fight the government.
“We need to strive more to improve our lives and the government is always there to help us,” Pacquiao said.
As part of ECLIP’s support packages, the former rebels underwent lectures and orientations from the Department of Agriculture and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) 12 (Soccsksargen).
Valdez added that some of the returnees have undergone various skills training through TESDA and are ready to start their livelihood projects. (Richelyn Gubalani, PNA)