GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Seventy-three former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in South Cotabato have received various assistance from the government this year through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
1st Lt. Krisjuper Andreo Punsalan, civil-military operations officer of the Army’s 5th Special Forces Battalion, said Wednesday the recipients were among the rebels who have surrendered since last year in parts of the province.
He said the surrenderers included eight indigenous peoples’ (IPs) from Lake Sebu town who decided to yield last April after serving as NPA combatants for several years.
Under the E-CLIP, Punsalan said the former rebels received immediate and reintegration assistance from the local government units as well as firearms remuneration and livelihood grants from the national government.
In South Cotabato, the immediate and reintegration assistance grants range from PHP5,000 to PHP20,000.
Various government agencies, among them the Department of Social Welfare and Development, provide livelihood assistance to former rebels amounting to PHP20,000 to PHP50,000.
The firearms remuneration is from PHP10,000 to PHP200,000, depending on the type of the surrendered unit.
Punsalan said they continuously monitor the situation of the surrenderers, especially their security status.
He said the move is aimed to prevent them from being influenced and recruited back by their former comrades.
To complement these efforts, he said the local government, through the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, has conducted support activities focusing on the “deradicalization” of the surrenderers.
“These are psychosocial interventions that are aimed to help our surrenderers cope with the changes in their situation and remove the communist terrorist ideology from their hearts and minds,” he said at a virtual forum hosted by the Philippine Information Agency.
Punsalan said they also conduct regular community support activities within their areas of responsibility, especially in conflict-affected communities.
He said the initiative is part of the mechanisms set in President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 70, which provided for the “whole-of-nation” approach to end local communist armed conflict.
“We do immersions in these communities to know their situation and various issues to counter possible NPA recruitment activities, especially among the IPs,” he said.
Citing their assessment, Punsalan added that the province’s security situation is currently manageable as the NPA’s influence and presence in the area have continued to decline in the past several years due to the sustained development efforts of government agencies and local government units.
The Communist Part of the Philippines-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)