DILG accepts Bayan Muna challenge; urges Congress to conduct inquiry into rebel surrenderers program
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is accepting the challenge of the so-called “Makabayan bloc” for a Congresional inquiry on the government’s program for rebel surrenderers as this will be an opportunity to place on the record the thousands of rebel surrenderers who have been benefited by the program and whose lives has been changed by the program.
“Hindi uurungan ng gobyerno ang patutsada ng kaliwa na magkaroon ng imbestigasyon dahil wala namang korapsyon o anomalya sa programang ito. By all means, we urge Congress to do an inquiry so that the public will know the truth about the success of the ECLIP program,” says DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año.
Año says a Congress probe would allow the government to report to the public the significant accomplishments of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) which provides a complete package of assistance to former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and Militia ng Bayan (MB) and their family members who have laid down their arms to become productive members of the society.
“Kung inaakala ng Makabayan bloc na mapapahiya ang gobyerno sa isyung ito, nagkakamali sila. Nabigyan pa nga kami ng magandang oportunidad para maipakita kung gaano karami na na mga NPA at Militia ng Bayan ang nagbalik-loob sa pamahalaan at mang-engganyo sa iba pa na sumuko na dahil tutulungan sila ng gobyerno,” says Año.
The DILG Secretary made the remarks in response to the call of Bayan Muna Representatives Carlos Isagani Zarate and Eufemia Cullamat for Congress to look into the alleged corruption of the government’s E-CLIP program.
According to Año, from July 2018 to November 2019 alone, a total of P171.6-million in financial assistance package have been released to 2,882 rebel surrenderers under E-CLIP of the interagency Task Force Balik-Loob.
Of the 2,882 total number of former rebels (FRs), 2,635 among them were granted immediate assistance; 1,788 with livelihood assistance; and 655 firearms remuneration amounting to P 171.6-million through E-CLIP from July 2018 to November 2019.
Under the E-CLIP grant, FRs or their qualified beneficiaries are entitled to benefits ranging from guaranteed safety and security; monetary assistance such as a P50,000 as livelihood assistance, P21,000 for meals cost as FR is in the custody of Receiving Unit and other expenses, and P15,000 per FR for mobilization expenses; and firearms remuneration amounting to the value of turned-in firearms, among others.
“Kung kinakailangan ay pahaharapin namin sa Kongreso ang mga E-CLIP beneficiaries para sila mismo ang magpatotoo na natanggap nila ang ayuda ng gobyerno at nagbabagong-buhay na sila. Malalaman ng taong-bayan doon kung sino ba talaga ang gumagawa ng kuwento,” says Año.
The DILG Secretary is disappointed that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) who have been working hard to ensure peace and security have been wrongly accused by the leftist bloc.
“Hindi tama na kung sino pa ang nangangalaga sa seguridad ng estado at ng mga mamamayan ay sila pa ngayon ang pilit sinisiraan ng leftist bloc,” he says.
“We are ready to face the Makabayan Bloc in Congress or in any forum so that the AFP and the PNP can defend themselves and prove to the world that it is these leftist lawmakers who are concocting stories and spreading lies,” he adds.
Año also expresses disbelief that the Makabayan bloc was quick to the draw in attacking government but was unusually silent when a landmine planted by NPAs killed two and injured 12 civilians in Borongan, Eastern Samar last December 14.
“Ang bilis ninyong magtahi ng kuwento at patamaan ang gobyerno sa isyung ito. Pero nakapagtataka na kayo na pumoposturang tagapagtanggol ng interes ng naaapi ay hindi man lang pumiyok noong maraming nadisgrasya sa Eastern Samar dahil sa kagagawan ng NPA. Kaninong interes ba talaga ang pinoprotektahan ninyo?,” he says.
Meanwhile, Año says that the PNP and AFP commands have ordered its units to be more circumspect in releasing photos and information to the public and are already taking appropriate measures to ensure that such lapses will not happen again.
“Huwag nating bigyan ng dahilan ang mga kaaway ng estado na hanapan ng butas ang magandang programa natin para sa ating mga kababayan,” he says.