KIDAPAWAN CITY, North Cotabato, Mar. 20 (PIA) --- Some 16 former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the Municipality of Tulunan who surrendered to the Philippine Army received P15,000 each as financial assistance from the Department of the Interior and Local Government through its Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP).

Aside from the financial assistance, the former rebels also received sacks of rice as additional benefits.

North Cotabato DILG provincial director Ali Abdullah said that this shows the commitment of the government to help the returnees to become part of the mainstream society and to live normal lives again.

“The government is serious in pursuing genuine peace and is committed to help rebel returnees to start a new life,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Governor Emmylou Mendoza urged the returnees to seize the opportunity given by the government and become peace builders themselves as they are now back in the folds of the law and in the community.

“Now that you are back to the community, let yourselves become part of our efforts to promote long lasting peace,” Mendoza stated assuring the rebel returnees of all available help the provincial government could extend.

According to Dexter (not his real name), 44 years old, after he surrendered to the authority, he felt the sincerity of the government to help former rebels like him to start a new life.

Another returnee, Gilda (not her real name), said she did not regret surrendering because she felt the effort of different government agencies to help them. She also narrated how hard it is to be part of the armed group as she can’t even visit her own family and friends.

In the past months, a number of former NPA members received financial aid helping them to start small livelihood business.

In addition to the assistance from the DILG, the provincial government through the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Division and the Provincial Planning and Development Office also extended help to the beneficiaries after assessment of the projects they requested where they can avail as much as P50,000 as capital for their livelihood project. (SJDuerme-PIA12 wih report from JSta.Cruz- NorthCot Media Center)