(Eagle News) — President Rodrigo Duterte led the grant of housing units to former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and Militia ng Bayan in Davao del Norte as he urged the rebel surrenderees and housing units beneficiaries to convince active communist rebels to return to the fold of law.
“Naay panahon nga makigbisog ka kay nagtuo ka nga murag ang gobyerno gidaug-daog mo. Naa puy panahon nga — pag-undang ba. There is always a time. (There is a time for you to fight because you believed that the government was oppressing you. And there is also a time for you to stop fighting),” he said during the awarding ceremonies in Tagum City on Tuesday, July 16.
The President said the armed struggle of the communist rebels had lost meaning as the war had been going on for 53 years but the communist leaders were not in touch with the people’s needs.
Duterte said his government now is working hard to have peace and to stop the fighting, the injustice and the corruption
“I am well aware of the problem of insurgency often stems from the inability of government services to effectively and efficiently reach our people. Thus, since the beginning of this administration, we have worked to prioritize the enactment of policies and programs that will greatly improve the lives of our people and even those who have turned away from the government,” he said.
“Kani ba, 53 anyos na ang atong pag-away, pakig-bisog that’s not a proper term. Bakit ka makig-bisog against whom? Pilipino? (This war has been going on for 53 years. ‘Struggle’ is not the proper term. What are you struggling against and for whom? The Filipino?),” he asked.
“Singkwentay tres anyos, ingnan ng mga buang diha sa bukid kanaog namo.(Fifty-three years. Tell the idiots there in the mountains to come down),” the President said.
-P450,000 housing assistance from NHA-
Under the President’s program for NPA surrenderers, the National Housing Authority (NHA) is committed to provide every former NPA member housing assistance or housing units worth P450,000. Likewise, former rebels who already have existing units will also receive P100,000 worth of assistance for housing repairs and improvements under the E-CLIP.
In his speech, Duterte encouraged the former NPA rebels to avail of the opportunity to go back to mainstream society so that they can have decent lives for their children.
-Go back to school and study, Duterte tells former rebels-
He encouraged them to study and go back to school while he is still the President.
“Ni-a na man mo, eskwela mo mintras ako pay Presidente. Kamong naputol – — ikaw Inday, Inday sa kahanginan ug sa katugnaw diha sa lasang sige pag away aning.”
(Now that you are already here, you should study while I am still the President. Those who weren’t able to continue — you Inday, Inday continuing to fight amid the cold and the strong winds in the forest.)
“Balik mo’g eskwela ug paningkamot mo nga mabuhi mo. Kay kani og magkagutom-gutom napud mo unya ingnon na man pud ninyo ning gobyernoha — maninguha ta. (Go back to school and work for a living. Because if you run out of food to eat and you get hungry, you will have something to say about the government again. Let’s all work hard),” Duterte said.
During the awarding of shelters at the Freedom Residences, Bgy. Cuambogan, Tagum City, President Duterte said his administration has taken concrete measures in addressing the needs of the former rebels such as financial assistance, firearms remuneration, and grant of housing units.
Also part of Tuesday’s event was the demilitarization of turned-in-firearms under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP). The President hopes the program will help end the decades-old communist insurgency in the country.
Duterte explained that former rebels would receive decent and comfortable houses through the National Housing Authority’s (NHA) resettlement program, adding that the rebel returnees will be part of a community with accessible public market, health center, police station, and barangay hall.
He also pledged to put up a daycare center and schools for the children of former insurgents.
“We are also ensuring that they will live in decent and comfortable houses through a resettlement program under the National Housing Authority. The community that they will be a part of is near a public market — medyo malayo ‘yan ah — and a police station, a health center, a barangay hall and three schools,” he said.
“I also enjoin the former rebels — kamo ba (you) — who are here with us today to maximize the opportunity to return into mainstream of society by being responsible, productive, peaceful and law-abiding citizens,” the President said.
The Freedom Residences housing project in Tagum City aims to allocate housing units to former rebels with 375 families as beneficiaries. Currently, there are 60 completed housing units that are ready for occupancy.
–Housing for rebel surrenderees originally earmarked for AFP, PNP-
Under the project, housing units will be awarded to qualified former rebels from Davao Oriental, Davao de Oro, and Davao del Norte.
Originally earmarked for the military and police personnel, the National Housing Association, through Administrative Order No. 10, re-allocated the housing units of Freedom Residences to rebel returnees.
E-CLIP, on the other hand, is a government program that aims to provide a complete package of assistance to former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP) who have surrendered to the government.
The former members of the NPA who received house and lot packages during the ceremonial awarding Tuesday were Marion Jagmoc, Presco Kellay Perater Jr., Juanito Latiban, and Liza Davis.
Two other former rebels, Ricardo Omboy and Pedrito Sevilla, were given P65,000 in livelihood assistance by the President during the event.
Those who received housing units and government support were mostly from the NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Committee, according to a Malacanang release.