22 former rebels to get financial aid from gov’t

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/20 July) – Twenty-two more former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels from Sarangani Province are set to receive financial assistance under the government’s expanded reintegration program.

Lizette Lopez, provincial focal person of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), said Friday they are currently processing the release of the assistance and other support interventions for the rebels.

She said each of them stands to receive up to P65,000 in cash assistance, which includes incentives for surrendered firearms.

Under the E-CLIP, qualified beneficiaries are entitled to receive livelihood grants, trainings and other assistance packages from various government agencies.

The provincial government of Sarangani also provides additional cash assistance to the former rebels.

Lopez said the 22 returnees underwent healing and reconciliation sessions with basic business management training earlier this week through the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office and the Army’s 73rd Infantry Battalion.

She said the initiative was part of the interventions set under the E-CLIP and the local government’s flagship Sulong Kapayapaan program.

“They were given psychological and psychosocial interventions to help them cope with the difficulties that they faced while still with the rebel movement as well as guide them as they return to the mainstream society,” she said.

The former rebels also underwent sessions on the proper management of financial grants that they will receive from the government, she said.

Lopez said they found out during the sessions that most of the returnees could barely write and had difficulty with basic computing due to lack of education.

She said the former rebels appealed for the sustenance of development initiatives in tribal or indigenous communities in the province.

The returnees noted that the interventions implemented by the provincial and national governments, especially the provision of basic services, compelled them to surrender and return to the fold of the law, she said.

These include the provision of water systems, irrigation facilities, access to farm inputs and the rehabilitation of road networks.

Last week, 12 former NPA rebels from the province received financial assistance under the E-CLIP in a ceremony graced by Task Force Balik-Loob chair and Defense Undersecretary Reynaldo Mapagu.

The beneficiaries received P65,000 each or P15,000 as immediate assistance and P50,000 as livelihood grant. (MindaNews)