Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Sec. Eduardo M. Año led the demilitarization last week of 21 firearms surrendered by former rebels in Region IV-A as he lauded regional officials for their continued commitment to end the local communist armed conflict (ELCAC).
“Today’s demilitarization of surrendered firearms is a giant leap towards our quest for peace, because in any armed struggle, having the ‘strongest stick’ means having the upper hand,” said Año during the ceremony for the demilitarization of the firearms at Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna.
A former Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Año said that for the NPA combatants losing one’s weapon is like being stripped naked in battle.
“Kaya naman malaking bagay na ibinaba na ng ating mga nagbabalik-loob na kababayan ang kanilang mga sandata na siyang nangangahulugan ng pagyakap nilang muli at pagbabalik sa batas,” he said.
“No longer will these weapons be used to harm, threaten, and extort from the innocent. And no longer will their hands be tainted with guilt and blood,” he added.
In his remarks, Año summed up the sentiments of majority of Filipinos when he said, “Fifty years of conflict is enough. We need to stop the insurgency now.”
He said “being a government with tapang and malasakit, the greatest gift we can impart to our people and future generations is a peaceful and progressive life.”
“Simula noong Hulyo 2016 hanggang Nobyembre 2019, namahagi na ang pamahalaan ng tulong pinansyal sa 2,882 na mga kababayan nating nagbalik-loob. Bukod pa rito ang pagkakaloob ng tulong pangkabuhayan para sa 1,788 na dating rebelde sa pagnanais nating maging produktibo muli sila sa kanilang buhay,” Año narrated.
Ano revealed that the government is planning “to give Php20 million to each conflict-free barangay and Php1.5 million to each conflict-threatened/affected barangay for development projects.”
He recalled that since the present administration assumed office, 160 members of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front as well as their families have surrendered in Region IVA, and 116 of them have been provided with financial assistance under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP).
Thumbs up for CALABARZON
Año lauded the mayors of Calabarzon for taking the lead in the advocacy to end insurgency in the country. "Dahil sa inyong taos-pusong suporta, kabilang na ang inyong mga nasasakupan sa 2,307 na lokal na pamahalaan na nagdeklara sa CPP/NPA bilang persona non grata," he said.
He also commended the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police for “bravely [standing] under fire and [helping] in the conduct of other ways to defeat the communism in the region. Thank you for tirelessly heeding the call of duty.Marami na kayong ginawa at sigurado akong marami pa kayong magagawa para sa adhikain natin para sa kapayapaan at seguridad.”
The interior secretary thanked the civilians for taking back rebel returnees and enlisted the support of all stakeholders to President Rodrigo Duterte’s government’s quest for peace and urged the Calabarzon constituents to sustain their efforts and be the first region to end insurgency.
Ano especially commended DILG IV-A Regional Director Elias Fernandez for working hard to implement the ELCAC and being the first to establish a regional task force for it.
“Sa mga patuloy pa ring naliligaw ng landas,” Ano exhorted, “nawa’y magising na kayo sa katotohanan na walang patutunguhan ang mali at baluktot na ideolohiyang pinapalaganap ng Komunismo.”
Also present during the ceremony were Presidential Adviser for Southern Tagalog Secretary Jose Maria Nicomendes Hernandez, DILG-NBOO Director Karl Caesar Rimando, PNP PRO-Calabarzon RD PBGen Vicente Danao, Jr., AFP MGen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, Jr., Task Force Balik-Loob Commander Edwin Ello, among others. ###