Ex-NPA rebel hails government's Social Integration Program

June 9, 2009 12:05 pm 

By Jason B. Neola

CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, Pili, Camarines Sur, June 9 — An ex-New People's Army (NPA) rebel was now happy that he and his family were enjoying the benefits and privileges under the Social Integration Program (SIP) of the government.

Ka Ramon, not his real name, 43, said he "feels happy seeing the chances of a bright future with his wife and children under the government's SIP."

Ka Ramon spent six years in the NPA's underground movement.

He said he has found a new horizon that would lead him and his family to achieve "a peaceful and productive life."

He found out that there was no valid reason anymore for him to engage in the a NPA guerrilla warfare against the government troopers.

With the SIP, Ka Ramon realized that the saga of finding a new life far away from the warring forces of the insurgents has came to a happy ending.

He is now living peacefully in an undisclosed coastal town in the Bicol Region.

A document from the National Committee on Social Integration (NCSI) said SIP, which is being implemented pursuant to President Arroyo's Administrative Order 172, is a course of action whereby rebels and rebel returnees and their dependents are given a set of interventions to facilitate their integration into mainstream society.

Army Maj.Gen. Ruperto R. Pabustan, Philippine Army's 9th Infantry Division commander, said since January 2009 the program has served more than 40 rebels who have returned to the fold of the law. Ka Ramon was among them.

Pabustan said the figure is expected to double in the next few months because of the decreasing number of individuals paying the NPA's revolutionary taxes.

"They are now losing their mass-based support since the communities are no longer convinced about what they are fighting for, they are ordinary robbers and extortionists in the eyes of the people now," Pabustan said.

The program has three major components: community awareness and acceptance, force and arms management, and socio-economic intervention.

Major Christopher A. Morales, Army spokesman in Bicol, explained that under these components former rebels shall be provided access to economic and social opportunities.

Those who made available to them are line services from the national government agencies (NGAs), local government units (LGUs) and non-government organizations (NGOs).

Last June 5, seven former rebels were given remuneration for surrendered firearms and registered to SIP-funded socio-economic interventions by the NCSI.

Each of them was granted immediate assistance allowance while undergoing the process requirements for the granting of socio-economic intervention such as free housing and livelihood.

The program also includes capability and skills training, livelihood and employment opportunities, and educational assistance.

There will a corresponding cash assistance and reward for every firearms, ammunition and explosives that a rebel will surrender.

The surrendered firearms will be destroyed after being properly valuated.

He said the program provides cash assistance of more than P50,000 for every rebel returnee other than the P50,000 he will receive for every firearm surrendered.

Special projects for women and children shall also be implemented under the auspices of the NCSI-SIP.

SIP also offers legal assistance, job placement, health services (PhilHealth), Balik-Probinsiya, and assistance in accessing Land Tenure Programs services.(PNA)

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