The government has fulfilled its promise of a better life for former CPP-NPA members who have laid down their arms as a total of P171.6-million in financial assistance package have been released to 2,882 rebel surrenderers under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) from July 2018 to November 2019, according to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
"Maraming mga rebelde ang nagnanais din ng matino at mapayapang buhay kaya kahit minsan na nilang tinalikuran ang pamahalaan, patuloy naming aalalayan ang mga gustong magbagong-buhay,” says Año.
Based on the data of the DILG-National Barangay Operations Office, of the 2,882 total number of FRs, 2,635 were granted immediate assistance; 1,788 for livelihood assistance; and 655 firearms remuneration amounting to P 171.6-million through E-CLIP from July 2018 to November 2019.
“The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA) are now hurting as its ranks have been decimated by the huge number of surrenderers since July last year. Isa lang itong patunay na wala na silang kredibilidad at hindi sa lahat ng pagkakataon ay maloloko nila ang mga tao,” he says.
E-CLIP is a peacebuilding and social protection program that provides interventions to former New People’s Army (NPA) Rebels and Militia ng Bayan (MB) in becoming productive citizens of society.
In a media forum earlier today, DILG Spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan E. Malaya states that millions of pesos are earmarked to ensure that the FRs are able to transition to normalcy with ease and most importantly, that their needs and livelihood are prioritized.
He says that in the General Appropriations Act of 2020, a total of P 260-million fund for E-CLIP was earmarked "to further the cause of encouraging current rebels to renounce their lives as enemies of the state and live a normal life."
Under the E-CLIP grant, FRs or their qualified beneficiaries are entitled to benefits ranging from guaranteed safety and security; monetary assistance such as a Php 50,000.00 as livelihood assistance, Php 21,000.00 for meals cost as FR is in the custody of Receiving Unit and other expenses, and Php 15,000.00 per FR for mobilization expenses; and firearms remuneration amounting to the value of turned-in firearms, among others.
"E-CLIP will be here to assist rebels who want to change the story of their lives, those who want to abandon the hostility of armed conflicts. Hindi kayo pababayaan ng inyong pamahalaan," says Malaya.
Services down to the grassroots
DILG Undersecretary Malaya says that despite the government's successes in capturing terrorists and aiding rebel surrenderers, "education and ensuring that the services of the government reach the fringes of the society down to the far-flung areas" are still the potent mechanisms to fight CTGs in the country.
He says that recruitments of CTGs target the most vulnerable sectors, the ones that the government is finding hard to reach which can be countered by education and awareness coupled with consistent government services by means of programs such as the Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP).
RCSP is the primary program in line with the government’s effort at the grassroots level to combat the activities of the CTG which is focused on socio-economic and cultural problems.
"Kailangan maramdaman nilang hindi sila pinababayaan ng ating pamahalaan. Using the deficiencies of the government has been the theme of CTGs recruitment to brainwash its recruits, it's time we put a stop to it as it has destroyed millions of Filipinos' lives and we see RSCP doing that for us," Año says.
"They must know that their government will never forsake them and that assistance and services will be granted to them. Napakahalaga na malaman nila ang mga ito," he adds.
He explains that the RCSP is an inclusive program that is addressing identified issues of the community by closing the governance and development gaps through provision of needed government programs and projects.
"Sa pamamagitan ng RCSP ay layun nating mas lalo pang mapalapit sa mamamayan ang gobyerno. Layun nating mas lalong madama ng taumbayan ang serbisyo publiko ng pamahalaan," he says.
Meanwhile, Malaya also says that in line with the RCSP, Capacitating Urban Communities for Peace and Development (CUCPD) was simultaneously launched in various cities in Metro Manila last November 19 to implement RCSP in areas identified as “white area", or urban cities where CTGs focus their propaganda against the government.
"CUCPD is programmed to counter propaganda, halt recruitment, and promote national healing through development-oriented programs for various sectors like the urban poor, students, and professionals," he says.