CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, November 28—The pursuit for lasting peace is on as 105 former rebels receive financial assistance from the government, while their 94 surrendered firearms were formally demilitarized.

 The said assistance amounting to Php 2.6 Million is under Department of the Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), providing complete package of assistance to former rebels who were members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA), and National Democratic Front (NDF).

 “Though this program, our former rebels will be receiving financial assistance in the form of immediate assistance worth Php15,000.00, livelihood assistance worth Php 50,000.00, and firearms remuneration depending on the surrendered firearms,” DILG 10 Regional Director Arnel M. Agabe said.

 With this kind of incentives, RD Agabe is positive that this will help the former rebels mainstream back to society as well as this will encourage more rebels to come back to the folds of the law.

 Meanwhile, in the demilitarization of firearms, Department of National Defense Underecretary Reynaldo B. Mapagu said that “it is a testament that the government is not recycling firearms to pursue corrupt and unlawful ends.”

 He explained that the demilitarized firearms are sold as scrap through public bidding and whoever wins the bidding may opt to melt the metallic part of the firearms and use this for other purposes.

 On the other hand, DILG ASec Alexander L. Macario said that the government’s focus is not only on making the former rebels surrender their weapons but on addressing their needs as well.

 “Without addressing their economic, social, and psychological rehabilitation needs, the prospects for permanent and peaceful closure of all armed conflicts will remain dim.  Hence, we should not just focus on men and weapons but on their futures as well,” he said.

 Said Regional Inter-Agency Task Force on ECLIP (RIATFE) -initiated activity is attended by DND USec Mapagu, DILG ASec Alexander L. Macario, LTGen Felimon T. Santos Jr, DILG 10 RD Agabe, MGen Franco Nemesio M Gacal, PNP-PRO 10 Regiona Director P/ BGen Rolando B Anduyan, and other government agencies.  (DILG 10/LGOO II Rezza Mae B. Tolinero)