MORE government support awaits rebel returnees in the Cordillera Administrative Region.
Newly-installed cabinet officer for Cordillera Regional Development and Security (Cords) and concurrent Agriculture Secretary William Dar announced the rebels who recently surrendered in Kalinga and Abra Province will get additional benefits under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-Clip).
In the Cordillera, the government identified 47 focus villages in the region coming from the provinces of Abra, Kalinga, Ifugao, and Mountain Province where suspected New People’s Army (NPA) operates at present.
“That must be part of all our efforts to bring them back and why should they be back if there are no good opportunities. So these opportunities should be part of the mainstream and that is the reason why we are pursuing a whole of nation approach for these rebel returnees,” Dar said.
Under this initiative, cabinet members like Dar who was appointed as Cords is assigned to discharge their functions, duties and responsibilities to a particular region in addition to their regular duties.
Just recently, Ka Diwa of the NPA operating in Kalinga and 10 members of the Militia ng Bayan based in Abra surrendered to the government.
“The major responsibility of the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict which is the development framework where they will be guided accordingly and we will manage this process of ending local communist armed conflict through a number of strategies. The reason why they have gone to the other side is because of poverty and this is the reason why we have to tackle it in a development prospective, how we can bring more assistance to the country side in terms of building up opportunities with which they can have sustainable livelihood and income opportunities,” the Secretary stated.
The military’s support for the government’s E-CLIP is still in full swing to ensure that surrendering communist rebels have a holistic package of benefits that they can avail of, such as livelihood assistance, medical assistance, education, housing, and legal assistance.
“Given this recent post, I will be regularly coming here not only in Benguet but other provinces of Cordillera to address concerns and issues in the area and make reports to the President,” Dar added.
Aside from ensuring speedy, efficient and orderly resolution of problems in government operations, the CORDS will assist the President in delivering basic services and livelihood to their assigned region.