After fresh attacks allegedly committed by communist rebels during the Holy Week in Davao City, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) OIC-Secretary Eduardo M. Ano calls on the rebels to immediately stop hostilities, extortion activities, and burning of construction or farm equipment and instead build mutual trust with the government for possible resumption of the peace talks.
“You cannot demand peace yet do violence. Peace negotiations require an enabling environment for your side and the government panel to hear out each other and arrive at sincere agreements,” he says.
“There is no use talking peace if government forces and civilians are dying and the CPP/NPA/NDF continues to conduct criminal activities particularly arson. It is contrary to getting back to the peace table. Talking peace needs confidence-building measures," he points out.
The DILG Chief urges the NDF-CPP-NPA (National Democratic Front – Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army) “to reciprocate the sincerity of the government and others concerned such as the Royal Norwegian Government and at least 60 members of the House of Representatives both calling for President Duterte to revive peace talks.”
Nonetheless, he said that, with or without peace talks, the Duterte administration welcomes with open arms all rebels who will lay down their arms and return to mainstream society.
The former AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) Chief of Staff says that “among the proof of the government’s sincerity is the DILG’s Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).”
The E-CLIP facilitates the mainstreaming of former NPA rebels and Militia ng Bayan as productive citizens. The program also compensates and remunerates all turned-in firearms.
A former rebel gets an immediate assistance in the amount of P15,000 for mobilization expenses, livelihood assistance in the amount of P50,000, skills training, shelter and legal assistance, among others.
For the past three years, the DILG has provided financial assistance to hundreds of former communist rebels. P59.68-million has been utilized for immediate assistance to 471 former rebels, while 459 got livelihood assistance, 361 with reintegration assistance, and 132 were given firearm renumeration.
Forty-five million pesos was also spent on construction of halfway houses for rebel-surrenderees in nine provinces: Kalinga and Mountain Province, Masbate, Negros Oriental, Northern Samar, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, and North Cotabato.
A halfway house is a temporary residence that serves as the processing center for former rebels. It could be a new structure that is established in provinces or highly urbanized cities that have expressed the need for such facility.
Just recently the President approved the release of almost half a billion pesos to support the E-CLIP, enough to support the more than 1,000 expected surrenderees for 2018.
"We call on the families, relatives and friends of rebels to help us convince them to go down from the mountains and take this life-changing opportunity," he says.
As for police and soldiers, the DILG manages the KIA/WIA (Killed-in-Action/Wounded-in-Action) One Stop Assistance Program Management that oversees the delivery of harmonized and streamlined government packages for the beneficiaries of battle or duty casualties of the Philippine National Police and the AFP.