DAVAO ORIENTAL — Twenty-three former rebels are now ready to be reintegrated back to their respective communities following the completion of their processing under the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
On November 24, 2020, the former rebels marked the end of their two-month processing in a graduation ceremony held at the Happy Home Processing Center for former rebels at Barangay Don Martin Marundan, City of Mati, Davao Oriental.
During the graduation ceremony, the former rebels also received their diplomas under the Alternative Learning System of the Department of Education and received their national certificate for masonry from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
The graduates consist of ten (10) former rebels who received their elementary diploma, six (6) who completed the Basic Literacy Program, and another six (6) who completed their secondary education level.
During their stay at the Happy Home under the E-CLIP, these former rebels underwent livelihood trainings and scores of other interventions to help them be prepared for reintegration to the mainstream society.
“We are so happy that you chose to take this opportunity. This is now your new life. Congratulations, and I wish you all the best out there,” said Ms. Sarah D. Gudes, Provincial Social and Welfare Development Head Officer.
Awarding the National Certificate for Masonry, TESDA Provincial Director Leah Braga expressed her hopes that the former rebels will use the skills they have acquired as they start their new life outside of Happy Home.
Apart from the completion certificates, the former rebels will also receive cash assistance amounting to P65,000 each from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). P50,000 will serve as livelihood assistance while the remaining P15,000 is the immediate assistance which are the benefits under the E-CLIP.
“All these programs are out of the government’s sincere desire to help you. I hope that you would use the money, the skills and the lessons you got from Happy Home to be productive. I can’t wait to hear more success stories from this batch,” Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Provincial Director Orle A. Cabaobao said.
Alyas Edwin, one of the graduates, expressed his gratitude to the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program as it gave him another chance to live his life different from how he used to.
“For years, I have lived only hoping for their (New People’s Army) promises to come true. Not only was I putting my life at risk, but also my family’s. I surrendered to 701st Infantry Brigade because I can’t live my life like that anymore. I do not see light in my future fighting against the government,” in vernacular, Edwin narrated how his life has been and what brought him to Happy Home.
Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang congratulated the graduates and thanked the peace and development stakeholders of the provincial government for their relentless support to the former rebels.
“The government is always willing to help you. But we can’t help you if you would not help yourself,” he said. “We only have one government, so it is important that we support each other,” Governor Dayanghirang added, as he handed over P3,000 cash assistance each to the graduates as his personal gift to the former rebels.
These former rebels consist the second batch of former rebels who graduated this year under the E-CLIP.
Col. Krishnamurti Mortela, Commander of the 701st Brigade, Philippine Army, said that the ceremony was a manifestation that the province of Davao Oriental is dedicated to pursue long-term peace and development which is strengthened by the localized implementation of the President’s Executive Order 70 or Whole-of-Nation Approach to End Local Communist Armed Conflict which is being supported by the Provincial Government’s Executive Order 13.
“Your journey does not end here, in fact, this is just the beginning. We are partners now. Hopefully, you can also encourage your comrades to give their trust back to the government, and contribute to the government’s goal of ending conflicts due to insurgency,” Col. Mortela added.
Leaving Happy Home after their 2-month stay, these twenty-three (23) former rebels will no longer bear the label of being former communists, but will be regarded as civilians. |By Shaye Dacles