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Friends Rescued calls for reconciliation, unity to attain just, lasting peace

Hopeful, but robust, Gina Granada, the newly elected president of the Interim Regional Friends Rescued Organization of Zamboanga Peninsula has called for reconciliation and unity to attain just and lasting peace during the institutionalization of former rebels' organization.

The organization was formed in the recently concluded Regional Friends Rescued Summit, spearheaded by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU).

Friends Rescued (FR) are former rebels who surrendered to the government and who are in the custody of the different battalion units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). 

According to the 102nd Brigade of the Philippine Army's strategy for the transformation program update, there are about 400 FRs in Zamboanga Peninsula (ZamPen).

Granada said there are FRs who are currently detained in jail because of the charges filed against them. For the same reason, some are under the maximum security protection of the battalion, while others have already returned to their community but are still unable to be fully classified as regular civilians; as a result, they remain under the supervision, monitoring, and surveillance of the AFP units.

At the recent FR Summit in Pagadian City, the organization made it a priority to assert realistic and attainable plans, particularly on legal matters to seek the dismissal of the cases and charges brought against the FRs.

“Ang uban pa na mga services extended sa mga line agencies like livelihood, education, health, mahimong mas matagamtam namo kung naa mi ultimate liberty,” Granada said. (We can enjoy more of the other services extended of the line agencies like livelihood, education, and health if we have ultimate liberty.)

With the formal institutionalization of the ZamPen Friends Rescued Organization, the group hopes to prioritize their continuous and sustained work with the government, and, on their end, be more confident and effective so that the FRs can be granted their liberty.

Granada is also looking forward to the more effective bridging of the gaps between the government and the people at the grassroots level especially those in the hinterlands, and conflict-affected and vulnerable areas. Further, that they can be instruments to link them through setting out the tangible results of the Regional Summit and Provincial Planning in connection with the transformation program of the government.

The Former Rebel Leaders' Summit on October 7, 2022 was held at the 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division of the Philippine Army in Pulacan, Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur. The event formalizes the institutionalization of former rebel organizations at the regional level, where the regional action plan for the transformation program of friends rescued were presented to their families and communities. The three provincial LGU's also expressed their commitment to implement the transformation plan in their respective provinces. 

Philhealth, National Housing Authority (NHA), & the Department of Health (DOH) have respectively awarded heigine kits, certificates of entitlement for housing, other health promotion and health advocacy and goods to qualified FR beneficiaries. (RVC/CCP/PIA9) (20221007)

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Clennkei Peñalosa

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Region 9

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