BUTUAN CITY – Former combatants of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in Agusan del Norte recently received financial assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
1Lt. Roel T. Maglalang, civil-military operation (CMO) officer of the 23rd Infantry Battalion (23IB), told the Philippine News Agency on Sunday that a total of PHP300,000 financial aid were given to 30 former rebels (FRs) who are presently seeking temporary refuge at the halfway house in the unit’s headquarters in Alubihid, Buenavista town.
The distribution was conducted by the personnel of the DSWD at the 23IB headquarters on Saturday.
“These former rebels surrendered to the unit on different dates during the third and fourth quarter of this year. While processing their benefits under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), the PHP10,000 aid they got will help them in their personal needs,” Maglalang said.
The former rebels also received hygiene kits, sleeping kits, and food packs.
In a phone interview on Sunday, alias “Judy”, one of the recipients of the assistance, thanked the government for the support she got while processing her E-CLIP benefits.
“I have no regrets about my decision to surrender and go back to my family. I am now reunited with my children,” Judy said.
She emphasized that the government and the Army are true to their promise of support to NPA combatants who go back to the fold of the law.
“I was already tired of fighting, what the NPA leaders told me before were all false. Nothing will happen with their armed revolution. It will only result in more suffering of the masses,” Judy said.
She also plans to open up a small business in their community once her E-CLIP benefits are released.
“I will focus my time and attention on my children. They have been longing for my care while I was in the communist movement for more than two years,” Judy said.
Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo, commander of the 23IB, thanked the DSWD for the release of the financial assistance for the rebels.
“The government and the Army’s 23IB will always adhere to its promises of helping the FRs transform their lives, from combatants to productive and progressive members of communities,” Paulo said in a statement released on Sunday.
He is hopeful that the assistance given by the government will help the FRs in their daily needs while processing their benefits from the ECLIP program of the government.
“Through the implementation of the Executive Order No. 70 and the ECLIP program, we can assure that the lives of our FRs will be improved through the different socio-economic programs and financial assistance provided by the government. What is important is for the FRs to obtain sustainable livelihoods that they can use to supply the daily needs of their families,” Paulo said. (PNA)