Task Force Balik Loob
By Pia Roces Morato / Philippine Star
By definition, balik-loob means coming back to something, perhaps a system (among others), where faith and trust is restored. Someone who has left the educational system, for example, and decides to re-enter or restore within him or herself the process of undergoing once again a full academic life is described as someone who has chosen to go back into this unfulfilled process in order to complete it.
In the same breath, when we speak of balik-loob in terms of former rebels and the task force that has been placed on top of this effort, we are speaking of the role of government in convincing members of the CPP-NPA-NDF to return to normal life and reunite with their loved ones. It has been noted that DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana lauded in 2018, via a PNA report, the TFBL for successfully and positively helping change the lives of fellow Filipinos who have been led astray through deception and recruitment done by the CPP-NPA-NDF.
Through the task force, hope was restored as government continues to pursue the basic needs that ought to be delivered on the grassroots level. Through the E-CLIP or Enhanced Comprehensive Local Information Program, former rebels are reintegrated back with their families and are able to start over with financial benefits to ensure their development which include housing, education, medical assistance, among others. The Task Force Balik-Loob, chaired by Undersecretary Reynaldo Mapagu, has five lead agencies as its partners. These agencies are the DILG, DND, NHA, OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process) and the Office of the President.
Bringing into account the whole-of-government approach, the TFBL, together with its partner agencies, is committed to work closely in providing the necessary benefits needed by former rebels while stressing that social healing and unity are means for lasting peace and better development among our people. Fighting insurgency, as Secretary Año once said, is addressed through a win-win solution rather than force. The programs instilled through the TFBL not only provide the quick wins by government but also address the stigma of former rebels and look into their roles that can bring forth a positive contribution to the whole of society.
In my humble opinion, it is time we all join forces to achieve lasting peace that affords us to experience in the long run useful gains. In other words, government is spending for such a program today; however, everyone will benefit from the peace dividends in the long run. Balik-loob... to go back inside... to restore faith and hope, whether it be in a God, in a person or in a system and, in this case, the government, is a better option for former rebels rather than fighting in the mountains and the call remains to be “come home.”