Sunday, November 8, 2020

Former Rebels receive NHA housing assistance in Agnor

BUENAVISTA, Agusan del Norte
– Two former combatants of the Communist New People’s Army (NPA) Terrorist (CNT) group are now assured of housing as they received cash assistance from the government under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP).

The two former rebels (FRs), who are staying at the halfway house inside the headquarters of the 23rd Infantry “Masigasig” Battalion received their checks on November 4, 2020 in a ceremony held at the Capitol Lobby of the Provincial Government of Agusan del Norte.

The two FRs, identified as Alias “Cocoy” and Alias “Joy” received their cash assistance from Gov. Dale B. Corvera, together with National Housing Authority Caraga (NHA-13) Regional Manager Ellen B. Walsh and Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) head Silver Joy Tejano.

Alias “Cocoy,” received housing assistance of PHP450,000.00 while alias “Joy” got PHP100,000.00.

Cocoy is a former member of Squad 1, Platton 1, of Guerrilla Front Committee (GFC) 34 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC) of the CNT who surrendered to the 23rd IB last April 22, 2018 while Joy is the former team leader of Squad 2, Platoon 2, Sentro de Grabidad DOVE, GFC 88 (GFC 88), North Central Regional Command (NCMRC) of CNT who surrendered to the unit last April 17, 2018.

Prior to the release of the assistance, the NHA, in coordination with the 23rd IB, conducted a consultation with the former rebels who are staying with the unit and asked them of their preferred assistance from the agency. Some opted to avail of the full house and lot program of the NHA while those who wanted to go back to their communities availed of the house repair and rehabilitation program of the agency.

The NHA, through Memorandum Circular No. 2019-041, has relaxed certain provisions to allow former rebels, who usually experience difficulties in securing pertinent documents, to avail of the housing program of the government. The move of the NHA is also based on the request of partner agencies on the situation of the former rebels. The NHA found the request of their partner agencies necessary to fully help the former rebels renew their lives as they go back to their families and communities.

Both Cocoy and Joy availed of the program that will help them repair and reconstruct their respective houses in the communities where they will permanently settle.

Joy expressed gladness upon receiving the assistance and thanked the government for the continued support to the former rebels.

“Nagpasalamat ko tungod sa inyong tinud-any nga pag serbisyo sa katawhan. Sauna nga wa pako sa gobyerno, wala gyod ko sukad maka gunit ani nga kantidad sa tibuok nakong kinabuhi. Mao na nga dako kaayo ang akong pasalamat nga natuman diay ang inyong gisaad sa amo. Ang gobyerno nag kanunay gyod nag lantaw sa ugma sa iyang katawhan, mao na sa pagkakaron ang inyong gihatag nga kantidad sa akoa, e plastar nako ug tarong kung unsay angay dapatan ani. Nanghinaot ko nga dili kami lang ang matagaan apan lakip na ang kauban namo mahatagan sab sila ani nga ayuda. Ako usab panawagan sa akong mga kanhing kauban nga maminaw sa tawag sa gobyerno aron usab nga maka baton na sila ug bag-o ug hayag nga kaugmaon,” Joy said.

During the turn-over ceremony, Gov. Corvera thanked all the agencies for their active cooperation in addressing the needs of the former rebels.

“I am so grateful with all the agencies who really gave their best in helping us in implementing the Executive Order No. 70 or the Whole of Nation approach to end insurgency. We have been facing these problems for more than fifty (50) years and with the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, the government provided a sincere approach to end the local communist armed conflict which we thought before that only the AFP and PNP has the responsibility to solve it. As you can see now, the armed group can never topple down the government because their members are now coming back to the folds of the government and the support of the people is now in our favor, ” Corvera said.

He emphasized that the root cause of insurgency is poverty, injustice, and the lack of government services in the hinter areas.

"Through the implementation of EO 70 and with the convergence of efforts of all government agencies, issues linked to insurgency problem are now easily addressed, he added.

The governor also stressed that the best solution to defeat poverty and injustice is through unity, not revolution.

“I am so glad that these two FRs received their housing assistance under the E-CLIP. May you also encourage your former comrades to lay down their arms because our government is always sincere in giving them the best services assistance for the betterment of their lives and future,” Corvera said.

NHA-13 head Engr. Walsh congratulated the two former rebels for the assistance they received from the government.

“I am so glad because this is the first-ever awarding that happened in Region 13. The National Housing Authority has given them three options to avail. The first was whether they will avail the existing AFP-PNP housing unit project which is also equivalent to 450,000; second option is, they can avail the release of cash assistance amounting 450,000.00 for the construction of Housing Unit for the individual FR provided that they have a lot to be utilized in building their house. We also have the latest supplemental guidelines wherein if the Local government unit or the province has the existing land which can be used or utilized for the Housing project for the FRs, we will release it collectively with the amount equivalent to 450,000.00 for the beneficiaries that can be catered in the area. The 3rd option is the release of 100,000.00 for the beneficiaries for the repair of their existing housing unit. These were under the ECLIP and the Balik-Loob Program. But of course, regardless of what you chose, you are not allowed to sell, rent, and abandon your housing unit because it was intended to help you to have a secured and safe home to live,” Walsh said.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo, the acting commanding officer of 23rd IB expressed gladness over the housing assistance received by Cocoy and Joy. He pointed out that the other former rebels now temporarily housed inside the unit will soon avail of the program they prefer.

“This housing project is one of the benefits the FRs can avail under the ECLIP that is being offered by the government to the CNT combatants. The program intends to provide our FRs with a safe and secure environment where they can live peacefully and away from insurgency,” Paulo said.

He also hoped that the remaining CNT members in Agusan del Norte and the rest of Caraga Region will wake up from being blinded by the false ideologies of their leaders and decide to go back to the fold of the law.

Source: Civil-Military Operations Office, 23rd Infantry Battalion, Joint Task Force Diamond, PA

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