DILG backs Church plea to stop attacks on Samar road project

MANILA The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday called on communist rebels to stop its attacks on a long-awaited road project aimed at developing the provinces of Northern and Eastern Samar.

DILG Secretary Eduardo M. AAo joined the call of the Catholic church for the New People's Army (NPA) to halt attacks on the Samar Pacific Coastal Road Project.

Pare-parehas tayong hindi uunlad at hihilahin natin ang bansa pababa (All of us will never achieve progress and we are just pulling the country down). These attacks have to stop especially the ones that affect the construction of vital infrastructure projects. If you [NPA] are really fighting for a better Philippines, spare this infrastructure project for its completion will benefit your fellow Filipinos immensely," AAo said in a statement.

According to AAo, the government and the Church are one in condemning attacks against innocent people and ones that damage infrastructure projects, either ongoing or completed "as they are counterproductive and goes against the objective of leading the country to genuine progress and lasting peace."

Bishop Crispin Vasquez of the Diocese of Borongan, one of the leaders of the Samar Island Partnership for Peace Development, a church-led organization, recently appealed to the NPA to cease violent attacks on the project.

Last May 21, soldiers deployed to secure the construction equipment of said project site were attacked by the communist terrorist group resulting in three casualties, one from the 63rd Infantry Battalion and two from the attacking terrorists.

AAo said that if the NPA truly envisions a peaceful Philippines, it will stop these senseless attacks that are taking lives and start engaging in peace talks at the local level.

"We are advocating for localized peace talks, which has been proven to be effective. The government is willing to sit down with local NPA guerrilla fronts and come up with a better option than killing each other in the mountains," the DILG Chief said.

In line with localized peace talks, the DILG Secretary also urged LGUs to push for the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) that assists former rebels (FRs) who have surrendered to the government.

He says that for 2019 alone, a total of 425 former rebels from all regions in the country were granted financial assistance with a cumulative amount of P28-million, mostly allotted for livelihood assistance.

"There is a peaceful option for us to resolve this conflict. The E-CLIP has helped many former rebels. They just need to express their desire for a peaceful life back to the fold of the law," AAo says.

Last year, a total of PHP128-million was granted to 1,534 FRs mainly coming from Regions 11, 12 and 13. (PR)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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