A HUNDRED former “violent extremists” have surrendered to the authorities in recent weeks, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Saturday, July 30, 2022.
The former members of the extremist groups surrendered in a formal ceremony held at the Sulu Provincial Gymnasium on July 30 led by Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos, PNP officer-in-charge Lieutenant General Vicente Danao Jr. and Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan.
They were either members or supporters of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) from the municipalities in Sulu, including Indanan, Omar, Maimbong, Panamao, Talipao and Patikul.
“This is a collaborative effort among law enforcers, government agencies and other stakeholders sharing a common goal to end violence in communities towards nation building,” Danao said.
“Proper coordination was done among government agencies and non-governmental organizations who pledged help for the rebel returnees,” he added.
A total of 22 firearms, both long and short, were also turned over during the event.
Food packs and monetary aid were given to those who surrendered.
They will also be enrolled in the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-Clip) to receive financial and livelihood assistance.
Under the E-Clip grant, qualified beneficiaries are entitled to guaranteed safety and security; cash assistance including P50,000 livelihood assistance; P15,000 for mobilization expenses; and firearms remuneration amounting to the value of turned-in firearms.
E-Clip is a flagship program of the Duterte administration that aims to help members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), and Militia ng Bayan (MB) to restore allegiance to the Philippine Government.
Danao said the police together with the local government unit will also monitor the surrenderers to track progress in their way of living.
Abalos encouraged the surrenderers to continue mending their ways.
"Today is truly a historic day. Itong araw na ito ang simula ng inyong bagong buhay, kayo ay may pagkakataon na muling maging produktibong kabahagi ng bansa," Abalos said.
"Kaya nagpapasalamat ako na kayo'y naniwala at nagtiwala sa pangako ng pagbabago ng ating gobyerno. Kayo man ay sandaling naligaw ng landas, masaya ako na kayo'y nagbalik hindi lang para sa inyong sarili kung hindi para sa ating kabataan," he added.
Danao, for their part, vowed to continue monitoring the peace and order situation in Sulu saying that the road to achieving lasting peace is still up ahead.
He said the PNP is in constant coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and other law enforcers to monitor the movements of existing rebel and terror groups in Sulu and other identified "red" zones.
“Their surrender is a milestone but we prepare ourselves into making things work for them. We want to avoid similar situation when they and/or other new recruits will be persuaded to join the rebels out of deceit,” Danao told police personnel.
“We must make sure that they feel that the government is capable of helping them survive and thrive in life. The PNP has this innate task to keep them away from harm, so with the rest of our countrymen,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)