ALABEL, Sarangani (December 17, 2010) – The Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Peace Institutions Development Office director Rolando Asuncion has lauded Sarangani’s localized Social Integration Program (SIP) of former rebels presented by Vice Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon in a meeting Thursday (December 16).
“You have your own framework which is far more advanced than the other provinces,” Asuncion said.
Asuncion said Sarangani SIP has details and principles that actually entail the initiatives of OPAPP’s new framework.
Solon chairs the Localized Committee on Peace Process (LCPP).
“There is no threat of them going back to the mountains. Aside from tactical investigation, they are given provisions of food, shelter, emergency assistance, job opportunities, technical and vocational skills,” Solon said.
Ben Solarte of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) disclosed that some of these former rebels were now barangay officials.
“Some of them are also members of the barangay defense force in their own community,” Solon said.
Asuncion arrived in the province to monitor the implementation of the SIP among former rebels here and to introduce OPAPP’s new framework called BALAYAN, an acronym for Bagong Landas Para Sa Kapayapaan (New Path to Peace), enhancing the SIP.
“We also have to reconcile data on the giving of financial assistance to them. A single former rebel who hasn’t received such assistance matters a lot,” Asuncion said.
“Former rebels used the financial assistance given to them by OPAPP in building a small sari-sari store, agriculture, farming, or other forms of livelihood,” Solarte said.
Solon said the PSWDO as member of the LCPP conducts a twice-a-month visit to former rebels’ communities in Alabel, Malapatan, Glan, Maasim and Malungon municipalities. Sarangani has five former rebels associations or small cooperatives which become their families’ sources of livelihood.
The Philippine Army’s 73rd Infantry Battalion stationed in Maasim town reported there was no reported death in the implementation of the SIP in the province.
“One reason is they (CPP-NPA-NDF) are not as thick here as compared to other areas so we can keep them on the run,” Battalion Commander Maj. Adolfo Espuelas said.
“Another reason is that the rebel-returnees keep close to our security posts. Where the road ends, the NPA begins. So the real solution to the problem is still on the effective and efficient delivery of social services to remote communities,” Espuelas said. (Russtum G. Pelima/SARANGANI INFORMATION OFFICE)