Gov’t builds halfway house for ex-rebels
By Mary Judaline Partlow / Philippine News Agency
DUMAGUETE CITY – The Enhanced Comprehensive Livelihood Integration Program (E-CLIP) of Negros Oriental is building a halfway house for the former Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) members as they transition to join the mainstream society.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) provincial chief Farah Gentuya, in an interview Friday, said the halfway house is a joint undertaking of the agency, the provincial government, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), specifically the Philippine Army.
It will be inside Camp Leon Kilat in Tanjay, Negros Oriental, where the 302nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army is headquartered, she said.
The provincial government, with the approval of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, has allocated an initial budget of PHP5 million for the construction of the halfway house, she added.
The groundbreaking and dedication of the halfway house was held early this week with DILG Region 7 director Leocadio Trovela, Gov. Roel Degamo, who chairs the provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC), and Col. Leonardo Peña, brigade commander.
The activity was in response to the government’s mandate of reintegrating former rebels who have surrendered.
In a media release on Friday, AFP Chief of Staff, Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said the groundbreaking and dedication activity “marks the beginning of a new life for our rebel returnees and there’s no better way to welcome them than by offering them a home where they can feel safe and secured as they rebuild their lives around a peaceful and progressive community.”
“As we continue to move forward and further our peace-building efforts, the AFP is looking ahead towards working with its partners and stakeholders in crafting similar programs and projects, thereby creating opportunities for a fresh start to our former rebels (FRs),” Sobejana said in his message which was read by Peña.
The AFP Chief was scheduled to attend the activity but had to cancel it and proceeded to Mindanao instead following the crash of a C-130 transport plane.
“Upon knowing that this project will be constructed inside Camp Leon Kilat, I did not think twice, because I know that the former rebels will be given much-needed guidance and protection from our Philippine Army and Philippine National Police in coordination with other concerned agencies,” Degamo said.
Meanwhile, Trovela said the halfway house is “needed in order to serve as a temporary shelter for FRs (former rebels) who recently returned to the folds of the law.”
“Livelihood training and other interventions will be conducted in the facility to prepare the FRs for their reintegration into the mainstream society. With this dedication ceremony, the lasting peace in Negros Oriental is within reach because of the demonstrated commitment that we have today,” he said. (PNA)