Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo encouraged the 33 beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Local Integration Program to spend what the government had given them in a wise and productive manner.
The beneficiaries, who had separately returned to the folds of the law in recent years, were granted each P15,000 as immediate assistance, and P50,000 livelihood assistance, or a total of P65,000 each under the CLIP.
“I hope that you will put to good use the assistance that is given to you so you could start anew and successfully reintegrate your life back as well as become a productive member of the community”, Degamo told the former members of the rebel New People’s Army.
Degamo also told them not hesitate to approach government officials any time if they need help and expressed joy over their return “to the folds of the law and will start to live a peaceful life”.
The turnover ceremony was attended by top ranking officials of the Philippine Army, headed by Maj. Gen Rey Leonardo Guerrero, commanding general of the 3 rd Infantry Division, 302 nd Brigade commander, Col. Alan Martin, Col. Harold Anthony Pascua, 79 th IB commanding officer, and Supt. Reynold Andot of the Negros Oriental PNP.
The CLIP seeks to contribute toward achieving the goal of permanent and peaceful closure of all armed conflicts with non-state armed groups.
Degamo reiterated his consistent stand of rural development over bearing arms as the best solution to the problems facing society today.
Three beneficiaries, who spoke for their group, expressed their gratitude to the governor, the Philippine Army, the police and other line government agencies for giving them the opportunity to start a new life.
Holding back tears, the two male and one female beneficiaries took turns in giving their responses and expressed hope for a better life under the CLIP.
The governor said his administration will continue to work to achieve lasting peace in the province and called on the other NPA members to leave the rebel movement and return to the folds of the law.
Guerrero said this is the biggest, in terms of the number of beneficiaries under the integration program, in the coverage area of the 3ID. He said he is pushing for the declaration of an insurgency-free Negros Oriental by 2016.
Martin said he hopes for a closure to the insurgency problem, as there is a bigger security concern, like the issue of the West Philippine Sea that is threatening the sovereignty of the country, and the passage of the Bangsa Moro Basic Law, that he hopes will be the solution to the Mindanao problem.
The checks were presented Degamo, provincial DILG director Dennis Quinones, and provincial social welfare officer Alice Lagarde.*JFP/JG