DAVAO City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio approved on Thursday the proposal of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Joint Task Force Haribon (JTFH) to establish a P5-million halfway house for rebel returnees in Mahayag, Bunawan, Davao City, but in one condition.
Colonel Ernesto Torres, 1003rd Infantry Brigade Commander under the JTFH, has made a recommendation on Thursday during the regular City Peace and Order Council (CPOC) Meeting at Grand Men Seng Hotel for the city to have its own halfway house where rebel returnees will be temporarily housed for de-radicalization, rehabilitation, and reintegration to the society.
“We are expecting an upsurge of surrenderees,” he said.
Thus, Torres asked the support of the local government unit of Davao City to support their endeavor, which will be helpful to the former rebels to become a productive citizen as holistic services will be imposed here.
Torres has gotten the nod of Duterte-Carpio, however, the mayor said that she will only give it a go if they could produce the list of those rebel returnees who are not qualified for the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (Clip) facilitated by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
During Torres’ presentation, he cited that in his brigade, he has 103 surrenderees, however, after their verification, only 91 were able to qualify to receive the Clip benefits, leaving 12 others who will not get incentives for surrendering.
Acknowledging this issue, Duterte-Carpio directed Torres to create a non-Clip program dedicated for those rebels who returned to the folds of the law but were not able to qualify since under DILG regulation, only the regular NPA fighters and Militia ng Bayan were qualified. However, they noted that there is also mass surrender of its supporters belonging to the Underground Mass Organization and other units.
At present, Torres said those rebel returnees are in the custody of their respective battalion under his brigade since there is no existing infrastructure yet to cater to these rebel returnees.
Meanwhile, the new headquarters of the 1003rd Infantry Brigade is currently being constructed to its new location in Bunawan which he said is very ideal place as compared to their previous location in Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte.
The location of the proposed halfway house will be constructed near their headquarters similar to the one in Davao Oriental where the provincial government had its own halfway house, which they called Happy, Home within the vicinity of 701st Infantry Brigade in Mati City.
Should the halfway house in Davao City will be constructed, it is eyed to efficiently accommodate the needs of rebel returnees during their transition period.
At the same time, it will become accessible for government assistance like the livelihood training. It will also be run by the local government through its social development office and the role of the armed forces is to filter those who will surrender and identify those who are qualified.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on February 23, 2018.
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