CAMP AQUINO, Tarlac City – The Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) said eight halfway houses for former rebels have been completed in as many provinces and are now ready for operations.
These are located in Bantay, Ilocos Sur; Laoag City, Ilocos Norte; Burgos, Pangasinan; Lallo, Cagayan; Cabaruguis, Quirino; Lagangilang, Abra; Bontoc, Mountain Province; and Tabuk City, Kalinga.
These halfway houses can accommodate a total of 271 individuals. Each has complete amenities and furniture and is just waiting for electricity and water connection to be fully operational.
Nolcom chief Lt. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo B. Burgos Jr., in a social media post on Tuesday, thanked the local government units (LGUs) responsible for fast-tracking the completion of the facilities.
“The timely completion of the halfway houses is a welcome development in the government’s fight against the communist terrorists. I commend the local government units and partner agencies responsible for the speedy completion of the projects, as it manifests their strong desire and unwavering commitment to end local communist armed conflict in their respective locality,” Burgos said.
He added that the completion of the hubs exhibits the government’s sincerity to address the plight of the people who have been deceived by the New People’s Army (NPA) to support its false cause.
The construction of halfway houses is part of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
It aims to provide temporary shelter to former rebels and their families while their enrollment to E-CLIP is being processed.
The halfway house also serves as a venue for livelihood training and psycho-socio debriefing of the former rebels prior to their reintegration into mainstream society.
“True to its promise of hope and reconciliation, the government continues to deliver programs and projects that address the causes of grievances of our people. It is in this context, that the Defenders of North reiterate our call to the remnants of the communist terrorists, to lay down your arms and abandon the armed violence. Think of your family and your future. You deserve a much better life together with your family in a peaceful and progressive community,” Burgos said.
A total of 11 halfway houses are programmed to be built in Northern Luzon. The construction of the remaining three is still ongoing.
Based on Nolcom’s report, a total of 602 former rebels in Northern and Central Luzon have returned to the fold of law from Jan. 1 to Sept. 5, this year.
Burgos earlier said that with the continuous rise in the number of rebels voluntarily surrendering to the authorities, the end of NPA’s reign of terror in Northern and Central Luzon is in sight.
“It’s only a matter of time that the NPAs will be totally eradicated in this part of the country,” he said.
The NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)