TF Balik Loob distributes Php4.5M cash aid to 79 ex-Reds in Bukidnon

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By 403rd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army

MALAYBALAY CITY, Bukidnon, Nov. 9 -- Seventy-nine former members of the New People's Army (NPA) in Bukidnon received more than Php4,5 million worth of government aid from Task Force (TF) Balik Loob Friday, November 8.

Under the President’s TF Balik-Loob program, former NPA rebels are entitled to receive immediate cash assistance, livelihood fund assistance, and firearms remuneration funds for firearms turned-in of which the amount will vary depending on the type of weapon.

Aside from the cash assistance, the former rebels (FRs) also went through a series of psychosocial interventions as part of the process of their mainstreaming and reintegration into communities.

"These FRs are victims of circumstances and exploitation by the local communist whose desire is to grab political power at the expense of our indigent brothers and sisters. The local communist leaders deprived our people of the opportunity to improve their lives. The exploited youths could have finished school, found jobs, and spent time with their families. They were taught by NPA cadres to lie and cheat, that they even lie when asked of their names. They were taught to defy their parents so it would be easy for them to defy and rebel against the government, said Brigadier General Edgardo De Leon, Commander of Army's 403rd Infantry Brigade in Northern Mindanao.

He said NPA recruiters promised to provide a Php5,000 monthly allowance, one sack of rice, and land title if they join, only to realize that they were just fooled.

"The government helps them regain the dignity of a human being. DepEd provides them continuing education through the Alternative Learning System. TESDA and DOLE also provide skills and livelihood training for them. Just a few months ago, the Department of Agriculture gave us a farm tractor for the use of former combatants in their training and production. We made for them a model farm planted with adlai, dragon fruit, and vegetables which they could replicate in their settlement," De Leon added.

TF Balik Loob, the government's overseer of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP), reported that Northern Mindanao is among the top 4 regions in the country in terms of ECLIP beneficiaries. The others are Regions 11, 12 and 13.

ECLIP, however, is not going to be forever. According to DILG 10 Assistant Regional Director Yvette Sunga, the government intends to end the local communist armed conflict soon by proactive efforts of preventing further NPA recruitment. Zero recruitment means zero NPAs in the future.

Sunga further clarified that those who already availed of E-CLIP would not qualify to avail again. This means that those who are thinking of rejoining the NPA will have to suffer the consequences of either being killed in military operations or being jailed. "We have a stringent process of monitoring and verification system," Sunga added.

403rd Brigade Spokesman Cpt Ryan Layug said Balik Loob Assistance Centers are now being set up in the municipalities, cities, and provinces in region 10 as grassroots level extensions of the E-CLIP Committees which is chaired by the Governors and City Mayors and Co-chaired by Army's local Infantry Brigade.

A program of President Duterte, E-CLIP also provides housing benefits from the National Housing Authority, scholarship for beneficiaries or their dependents, and other additional benefits that local government units desire to add.

Full-Time NPA members and Milisyang Bayan members may approach any conduits such as barangay officials, priests, media workers or other community leaders. Then the conduits will accompany them to the army or the police for enrollment to the E-CLIP, subject to validation procedures. (403rd Infantry Division, PA)