Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) OIC-Secretary Eduardo M. Ano calls on CPP/NDF/NPA rebels to immediately stop hostilities and drop their plan for a coalition government in order to build mutual trust between both parties so that the peace talks may proceed.
“Contrary to the propaganda of the Left, the DILG wants nothing but peace. We support the peace talks. However, you cannot demand peace yet do violence and plot the downfall of the government. Peace negotiations require an enabling environment for both sides to genuinely hear each other and arrive at sincere agreements,” Ano says.
The DILG chief reiterates his support for the President’s request that the peace talks be held in the country, no hostilities and regrouping during the cease fire, and no collection of revolutionary taxes and attacks on government projects.
He urges the National Democratic Front – Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (NDF-CPP-NPA) “to reciprocate the sincerity of the government. How can we build mutual trust if the Left has been using the ceasefires to strengthen their ranks in their continuing bid to topple the government,” he says.
He discloses that during the last unilateral ceasefire in mid-2016 to January 2017, the CPP/NDF held a People’s Congress and a Central Committee Plenum where they crafted a 3-year plan to advance their “revolutionary movement” that includes ousting President Rodrigo Duterte if the President will not agree to a coalition government.
By January 2017, the NPA National Commission started implementing the decision of the Central Committee to advance the revolutionary movement and used the lull in the fighting to consolidate, strengthen, and recover lost ground and mass base that has been liberated by government forces.
“We were able to confirm that in May of last year, they formally launched an oust Duterte campaign that will culminate in October of this year. What does this say of the sincerity of the Left?,” he says.
“Again, they speak of peace but the NPA destroyed P10M worth heavy equipment of a government project in Puon Bato, Zambales recently. What is the use of CARHRIL and the other signed documents if the other side does not follow it? It is not even worth the paper it’s written on,” he says.
“What is the use of talking peace if government forces and civilians are dying? It is contrary to getting back to the peace table. Talking peace needs confidence-building measures," he points out.
The DILG Chief says that should the GPH-CPP peace talks fail, they can always pursue localized peace talks led by LGUs so long as the local governments do not concede any aspect of governance and pursuant to guidance from the Cabinet Security Cluster.
Nonetheless, he says that, with or without peace talks, the DILG welcomes with open arms all rebels who will lay down their arms and return to mainstream society.
The former AFP Chief of Staff says that “among the proof of the government’s sincerity is the DILG’s Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).”
E-CLIP facilitates the mainstreaming of former NPA rebels and Militia ng Bayan as productive citizens. The program also compensates and remunerates all turned-in firearms.
A former rebel gets an immediate assistance in the amount of P15,000 for mobilization expenses, livelihood assistance in the amount of P50,000, skills training, shelter and legal assistance, among others.
For the past three years, the DILG has provided financial assistance to hundreds of former communist rebels. An amount of P59.68-million has been utilized for immediate assistance to 471 former rebels, while 459 got livelihood assistance, 361 with reintegration assistance, and 132 were given firearm renumeration.
Forty-five million pesos was also spent on construction of halfway houses for rebel-surrenderees in nine provinces: Kalinga and Mountain Province, Masbate, Negros Oriental, Northern Samar, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, and North Cotabato.
A halfway house is a temporary residence that serves as the processing center for former rebels. This could be a new structure that is established in provinces or highly urbanized cities that have expressed the need for such facility.
As for police and soldiers, the DILG manages the KIA/WIA (Killed-in-Action/Wounded-in-Action) One Stop Assistance Program Management that oversees the delivery of harmonized and streamlined government packages for the beneficiaries of battle or duty casualties of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.