TACLOBAN CITY – Military and local government officials in San Jose de Buan, Samar conducted a dialogue with the family members of the alleged New People’s Army (NPA).
By meeting their loved ones, the government officials hope that they could convince these remaining active rebels to surrender and return to the folds of the law.
The peace engagement was initiated by the municipal task force to end local communist armed conflict(MF-ELCAC) headed by Mayor Joaquin Elizalde and Lt. Col. Luzelito Betinol, the commanding officer of the 87th Infantry Battalion.
Betinol said that the dialogue was conducted to seek the help of family members of the active NPA to convince them to surrender and in the process, avail the benefits provided under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) and the housing assistance under the ‘Saad nga Balay’ program.
E-CLIP is a government strategy aim to convince active rebels to surrender by providing financial packages while the Saad nga Balay is a housing program for the former rebels.
The municipal government of San Jose de Buan together with the provincial government of Samar initially funded the construction of 17 houses within the 3.4 hectares lot.
“Please stop giving support to the NPA so that the insurgency problem here in the province of Samar can be completely ended for us to achieve lasting peace,” LtCol Betinol said in his appeal.
Tito Labong, a former rebel and president of the ‘peace builders association’ convinced the family members of the rebels to heed the call of the government and help convince their kin serving at the armed outlaw group to surrender.
“If we really love our family members, we will not be afraid to convince them to surrender. Don’t be afraid, our government and army will be there waiting and ready to help them” Labong said.
LtCol Betinol added that prior to the dialogue, the MTF-ELCAC has distributes financial aid to 17 former rebels who are the initial beneficiaries of the Saad nga Balay.
Each former rebel received P50, 000 cash assistance under the Sustainable Livelihood Program from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), including food packs.
Betinol added that the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU) thru Area Manager Imelda Bonifacio assisted by 801st Brigade Commander Brig. Gen. Lenart Lelina had also distributed sacks of rice to the former rebels.
(ROEL T. AMAZONA)