MANILA -- Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana lauded the role of the government's "Task Force Balik Loob" for its role in convincing former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army - National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) to surrender and return to the mainstream society with their loved ones.
"The year 2018 was a very productive year for 'Task Force Balik-Loob' (TFBL). Through the diligent efforts of our lead and partner agencies, the Task Force was able to positively change the lives of our fellow Filipinos who have been led astray by the deceptive recruitment and lies of the CPP-NPA-NDF. More importantly, we were able to spark hope in the hearts of those who have lost faith in the government," Lorenzana said in a statement Saturday.
He lauded the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) for its success in helping former rebels (FRs).
In just five months since the program commenced in July 2018, a total of 1,437 former rebels were given financial assistance worth PHP116,453,488 under the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP), which is being administered by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), through its provincial offices as of January 23.
TFBL Chairperson and Defense Undersecretary Reynaldo B. Mapagu said although the E-CLIP uses the non-kinetic approach to counter communist insurgency, it is envisioned as the most powerful method of defeating such insurgency.
Mapagu said the programs provide the government with quick wins by hitting three birds with one stone: prevent bloodshed on the side of rebels and government forces, erase the stigma of being a former rebel by emphasizing their positive role in society, and encourage more surrenderers until the communist movement collapses.
Ito kasi yung programa na gagastos nga tayo pero in the long run, dito tayo sa programang ito makakatipid. Tayong lahat, makikinabang sapeace dividends. Maiiwasan na natin ang patayan, makakaiwan pa tayo ng (This is a program that will cost us much but in the long run, we will be able to gain savings. We will benefit from peace dividends. Aside from avoiding killings, we will be able to leave a) legacy. God willing, if we end insurgency, it will be a lasting legacy not only of the President but everybody who has helped, Mapagu said.
In addition to the financial assistance package awarded to FRs, the DILG also financially assisted 32 provinces and five highly-urbanized cities (HUCs) for the construction of their respective halfway houses worth PHP5 million each, for a total of PHP185 million.
A halfway house serves as a transition shelter for FRs where rehabilitation and healing sessions, education and skills training activities, among others, are facilitated by local social welfare and development officers and local government agency representatives.
Among the provinces that have existing halfway houses are Davao Oriental, Masbate and Mountain Province. In addition, the province of Sarangani already had a groundbreaking for its own halfway house.
Meanwhile, the National Housing Authority (NHA) awarded 685 Certificates of Entitlement in Region 11 (Davao), of which 412 are already being processed. It has likewise processed the grant of housing units to 31 former rebels at the Freedom Residences in Tagum City, and awarded checks to four FRs representing housing assistance.
Under the Payapa at Masaganang Pamanayanan (PAMANA) Program, another main component of the E-CLIP, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process disbursed a total of PHP1,428,250,000 for the construction of 15 roads and bridges in areas affected by the communist terrorist group in Mindanao.
As for assistance administered by TFBL partner agencies, 645 FRs underwent skills training from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) while 249 benefitted from the Integrated Livelihood Program of the Department of Labor and Employment.
TESDA also shared its Value Chain Programming concept expanding on the strategy of sustainability, to illustrate how to integrate skills development training to actual application on livelihood and employment.
The added loan access from Landbank will guarantee that the program will not only be doable but sustainable as well.
Last Dec. 13, 2018, Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with TFBL for a lending program for former rebels.
Under the MOA, qualified FRs may avail of up to PHP100,000 loan grant from LBP, for a minimal interest and easy repayment conditions.
According to LBP Assistant Vice President Edgardo S. Luzano, the program is the institution's way of helping former rebels grow and manifesting the government's full trust in them.
Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) also provided various assistance to 700 FRs and the Department of Trade and Industry assisted 226 FRs under its Livelihood Seeding Program.
On the part of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), seven FRs who are farmers were awarded Certificates of Land Allocation, breaking the record for the swift processing and awarding of the grants and beating the deadline set by President Rodrigo Duterte who personally gave assurance to the FRs concerned.
Lorenzana also shared the stories narrated to him by FRs about how they were deceived into believing that they will have their own land once they join the communist group, only to find out that the land that was promised to them belongs to a legitimate owner.
"Hinihiling ko sa bawat isa na tayo ay sama-samang kumilos para sa isang nagkakaisa at payapang sambayanan tungo sa maunlad na kinabukasan ng bayan (I am requesting each one to work together towards achieving unity and peace through creating a prosperous future for the nation), Lorenzana said as he thanked the attendees for sharing Duterte's passion and dedication to improve the plight of former rebels.
Other attendees to the meeting include representatives of partner and lead agencies of the Task Force, such as the Presidential Management Staff, the Office of the President, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, the Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of Health, the Department of Justice, the Presidential Communications Operations Office, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Department of Agriculture. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency