Provincial halfway house in Ilocos Sur inaugurated
By Joanne Namnama Dilim / Philippine Information Agency
BANTAY, Ilocos Sur – The newly-built halfway house in Ilocos Sur is now ready to accommodate former rebels after its inauguration on Friday, July 16.
National Security Adviser Secretary Hermogenes C. Esperon Jr. and Ilocos Sur Governor Ryan Luis V. Singson, along with officials from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and other concerned government agencies, led the inauguration of the facility inside the provincial jail compound, Taleb village, this town.
Esperon, also the vice chairperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) and the cabinet officer responsible for development and security in Region 1, said the halfway house will serve as a temporary shelter for rebel surrenderees while they are processing their documents as beneficiaries of the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP.
“Finally, when we welcome the returnees who would come to the folds of the law, dito natin sila dadalhin. Dito nila iwaksi ang kanilang maling paniniwala at makita nila kung gaano kasinsero ang gobyerno at ‘yung pagkakataon para mabigyan sila ng panibagong pag-asa,” Esperon said.
He said, the halfway house is not only a symbol of change of mind but also a symbol of a whole of nation approach in the fight against terrorism and insurgency.
“This is a symbol of cooperation that we have built up between the national and local government in terms of providing jointly something comfortable and believable,” he said.
The construction of the P5 million worth building was funded through the E-CLIP assistance project of the DILG and the Task Force Balik Loob as part of the implementation of Executive Order 70 or the ELCAC program.
The facility is equipped with male and female dormitories with a bathroom and comfort room each, a function room as an activity/lecture area, dining and kitchen area, and bedrooms for single and couple participants.
It can accommodate as many as 16 residents who will undergo livelihood trainings and debriefing sessions as they transition to join the mainstream society.
As its counterpart, the provincial government provided the lot where the facility is situated and the furniture, appliances, other amenities needed, among others.
Still, Gov. Singson said the provincial government will continue to provide any assistance for the maintenance of the halfway house.
“This is one of my commitments in support of the ELCAC especially that it is in Ilocos Sur that most of the former rebels surrender among the other provinces in the region,” Singson said.
He also backed up Esperon’s message that the halfway house here will not only cater to former rebels from Ilocos Sur but also from other areas, if any.
“Ilocos Sur is very accommodating, so if we have brothers or sisters who would like to surrender and know about the various programs of the government, then they are welcome here,” he said.
Meanwhile, Randy Dela Rosa, provincial director of DILG Ilocos Sur, said the building marks the realization of Ilocos Surian’s goal of eradicating the only armed group in the province which is the Komiteng Larangan Guerilla-South Ilocos Sur.
“Nawa’y ang halfway house na ito ay magiging sagisag ng kapayapaan, kaunlaran, at pag-asa sa ating lahat,” Dela Rosa said.
The blessing of the facility was held on July 15, a day before its inauguration. (JCR/JPD, PIA Region 1)