No. of :

No. of Shares:

Currently viewed by: Marcus Rosit

WestMinCom chief lauds South Cotabato’s anti-insurgency efforts

Lt. Gen. William Gonzales, commander of the Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, visited South Cotabato for a meeting with Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. on Tuesday, November 14. (Photo: PIA Region 12)

“Immediate cash assistance, livelihood, and scholarship opportunities for former rebels are among the notable programs of the provincial government of South Cotabato worth emulating,” according to Lt. Gen. William Gonzales, commander of Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Gonzales lauded the anti-insurgency initiatives of the provincial government of South Cotabato during his visit to Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. on Tuesday to discuss the peace and development efforts and security updates of the province.

With a nod of approval, the newly installed WestMinCom chief also commended local authorities for leading the way to pursue lasting peace, saying that the government is on track to sweep out the remaining members of communist terrorist groups (CTG) and local terrorist groups (LTG).

“I’m happy to tell you that our campaign against local terrorist groups and communist terrorist groups is yielding very good results. So, in the very near future, we can say that the fight against LTGs and CTGs in South Cotabato will be over,” he said.

The former AFP inspector general attributed the successful campaign to the whole-of-government approach being espoused by Executive Order 70’s National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), saying that this would not be possible if not for the convergence and support of all stakeholders.

Gonzales said the provincial government’s relentless effort to bring programs and services to far-flung and underserved communities is a boost in convincing rebels to reintegrate into mainstream society and discourage their mass base support.

Since 2019, the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) has accounted for some 482 CTGs and LTGs that have surrendered to authorities in South Cotabato.

The army commander noted that this is an indication of a weakening communist and terrorist movement.

“Kung dati truck-truck sila, ngayon siguro tricycle na lang. At ‘yang tricycle na ‘yan naghihintay na lang ng tamang panahon para sumuko [If they used to be trucks, now maybe it's just tricycles. And that tricycle is just waiting for the right time to surrender],” Gonzales said, referring to the number of rebels operating in the province.

The former rebels (FR) have received livelihood incentives, immediate cash assistance, and remuneration for surrendered firearms and ammunition under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

Aside from this, each FR receives an initial P15,000 cash assistance from the provincial government upon surrender.

“Maliban sa nahihirapan na sila dahil sa tuloy-tuloy na operations natin. Nakita na nila na meron palang naghihintay na suporta at programa ang gobyerno. Malaking tulong talaga at factor ang assistance na galing sa LGU [Aside from the fact that they are already struggling because of our continuous operations, they have already seen that the government has support and programs waiting for them. The assistance from the LGU is really a big factor],” he pointed out.

South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. welcomed WestMinCom commander Lt. Gen. William Gonzales to the province on Tuesday, November 14. Both officials discussed their campaigns against insurgency and some strategies to convince members of the communist terrorist group to return to the fold of the law. (Photo: PIA Region 12)

Meanwhile, Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. reiterated the call for remaining members of CTGs to peacefully surrender and avail of the benefits offered by the government.

The provincial government is welcoming surrenderers, even from other provinces, with open arms, he said.

“Kahit saan sila nanggaling at kailangan nilang sumuko ay wine-welcome natin. Tinutulungan natin ang gobyerno, Pilipinas naman ang pinag-uusapan. Masisiguro natin na sa pagtutulungan ay mareresolba natin ang mga problemang ito [Wherever they come from and they have to surrender, we welcome them. We are helping the government because it is the Philippines we are talking about. We can ensure that, by working together, we can solve these problems],” Tamayo said.

PSWDO chief Sonia Bautista said that to complement these efforts, they are also conducting support activities focusing on the “deradicalization” of the surrenderers through their Halfway House.

“Established in 2020, the halfway house serves as a temporary shelter for former rebels while their documents are being processed. This serves as a training facility for the FRs,” she said.

Bautista added that “aside from the usual incentives under E-CLIP, the provincial government initiates other programs such as scholarship and livelihood opportunities for FRs with the help of national government agencies.” (ORVR – PIA South Cotabato)

About the Author

Harlem Jude Ferolino

Job Order

Region 12

Feedback / Comment

Get in touch