Negros Occidental to build halfway house for ex-rebels

THE Negros Occidental provincial government is set to build a PHP15-million halfway house for former New People's Army (NPA) rebels at the site of the Capitol-owned Negros Ranch in Murcia town.

The province has allocated PHP10 million for the project, aside from the PHP5 million grant being offered by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), according to Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson on Friday.

“It’s a big site (referring to the Negros Ranch). They can even take care of the animals as part of the rehabilitation process. We thought that it is a good area,” he told reporters.

During the joint second quarter meeting of the Provincial Peace and Order Council and the Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council presided by Lacson, the body passed a resolution allowing the province to send a letter of intent, expressing its interest to avail of the PHP5-million grant from the DILG.

The establishment of a halfway house is being implemented by the DILG under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), which provides a package of assistance to former rebels (FRs).

The halfway house will serve as a temporary shelter for FRs while waiting for the processing of their benefits under the E-CLIP.

Livelihood training and other reintegration activities can also be conducted in the facility to prepare the FRs for their integration into mainstream society.

Lacson, who chairs the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, has constantly invited the NPA rebels to choose the path of peace by returning to the fold of the law.

He earlier said the province continues to work closely with the DILG, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Philippine National Police as well as with civil society groups and multi-stakeholders to implement peace-building initiatives, particularly in rural communities. (PNA)

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