MANILA The Communist movement is currently on the decline as 8,367 communist rebels had surrendered to the government from July 1, 2016 to Dec. 28, 2018.
Of this number, 1,117 former rebels have been granted benefits under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP), one of the main components of the interagency Task Force Balik Loob (TFBL) program, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo AAo said Friday.
The DILG chief said the government's program has been gaining a lot of ground in many parts of the country and has encouraged more communist rebels to lay down their arms because of the promise of a better life in the mainstream.
Lives are being changed by the ECLIP program. With more than a thousand former rebels (FRs) who have received financial assistance last year, we hope that their testimonies will serve as an encouragement for more communist rebels to surrender, he said in a news release.
Of the 8,367 rebel surrenderers, 1,207 are armed NPA regulars while the rest are members of the Militia ng Bayan, Sangay ng Partido sa Lokal, and underground mass activists.
As of December 21 last year, a total of 1,117 former rebels were provided with financial assistance, many of whom came from the Davao region where 361 became beneficiaries of the program followed by Soccskargen with 166 recipients, and Caraga with 149.
The interagency Task Force Balik Loob, led by Undersecretary Reynaldo Mapagu, serves as the central coordinating body in supervising the government's reintegration efforts for the members of the Communist Party of the Philippines New People's Army National Democratic Front and their immediate family members.
AAo said the facts on the ground are undisputed: the communist movement is on sharp decline and the only one who refuses to accept the truth is communist leader Jose Maria Sison, who is enjoying his life in Europe and has been out of touch with reality for decades.
We must remember that Joma is a masterpropagandist. He will twist facts to suit his own reality. Hindi niya kasi matanggap na nagtatagumpay ang programa ng gobyerno para sa mga rebelde at maraming rebelde na ang gustong magbagongbuhay (He could not accept that the government's program for the rebels is gaining success and that many rebels want to return to the government fold), he said.
To arrest the decline of the Communist movement, Joma and his minions have been clamoring for the resumption of the Oslo peace talks. That's the best way to stop the hemorrhage. They were already given their chance and blew it. The train has left the station, he added.
AAo said the recent creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict by President Rodrigo Duterte will lead to more rebel surrenderers because of its focus on localized peace engagements.
Meanwhile, 34 provinces and cities were also provided with financial assistance amounting to a total of PHP170 million for the construction of halfway houses through the program as of Dec. 19, 2018.
Halfway houses serve as temporary shelters for the rehabilitation and healing sessions of former rebels going through the process of reintegration.
With the influx of communist rebels giving up their way of life, AAo said the government, through the TFBL, is racing to speed up the processing of the FRs.
We are working double time with the other government agencies included in TFBL, as well as our regional offices, to fasttrack the processing of FRs so they can avail of the financial, livelihood, and housing assistance of the ECLIP, he said.
ECLIP offers assistance to former members of the NPA and Militia ng Bayan, including their immediate family members, who have surrendered to the government.
ECLIP provides FRs with PHP15,000 immediate cash assistance, PHP50,000 livelihood assistance, firearms compensation, psychosocial support, skills training, shelter, and other forms of help, such as legal, employment and medical assistance.
The DILG has disbursed some PHP488 million for the program in 2018 and will be allocating PHP260 million for ECLIP this year.
The success of ECLIP is proof of the government's sincerity to achieve lasting and meaningful peace throughout the country. Rest assured that the government will continue this wholeofnation approach to negotiating terms with the local rebels as well as ending local communist armed conflict in the country, AAo said.
LGUs as ECLIP front liners
During the 2018 ECLIP YearEnd Assessment held in Nasugbu, Batangas on December 1013 last year, local ECLIP Committees shared their experiences in the program's 2018 implementation.
Sa papamagitan ng ECLIP, tulungan natin ang ating mga kasamahan na magbalikloob sa ating pamahalaan. Tulungan natin silang makabalik sa kanilang komunidad at mamuhay nang maayos na walang panghuhusga (Through the ECLIP, let us help them return to the government fold. Let us help them return to their communities and lead normal lives without judgment), Oriental Mindoro Governor and Regional Peace and Order Council chairman Alfonso Umali said.
On the other hand, Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto said a partnership of stakeholders at all level brings peace, security, development and good governance in communities. After all, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Meanwhile, Eastern Samar Governor Marcelino Dindo Picardal has this message to the ECLIP beneficiaries: My administration fully supports the ECLIP for former rebels and, thus, augmented from local funds the financial assistance given by the national government to enable your families to start a new life. I hope that you will also perform your responsibility of maximizing the use of these meager resources and lead you and your families to become productive and lawabiding citizens of your communities.
For Misamis Occidental Governor Herminia Ramiro, she believes that To build and wield peace � it takes more than just signing treaties and agreements � but by forging trust at a deeper level � especially in reshaping, redirecting and touching the lives of our former rebels. (DILG PR)
Source: Philippines News Agency