Army holds peace symposium to former rebels

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The 79th Infantry (Masaligan) Battalion conducted Peace Advocacy Symposium to the recipients of the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) last December 11, 2020 at Masaligan Multipurpose Hall, Headquarters 79IB, Brgy Bato, Sagay City, Negros Occidental.

A total of 39 former rebels who are recipients of the government’s E-CLIP participated in the Peace Advocacy Symposium that commenced with a spiritual enlightenment by Ms. Mary Hope Bisaca, lead Pastor of Trinity Christian Fellowship.

The activity aims to continuously guard the former rebels against the CNTs influence as well as to empower each of them to be a productive, responsible, well-informed member of the society and be a partner of the government in ending local communist armed conflict.

Series of lectures were also conducted by participating agencies such as the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), PhilHealth, Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, and the Philippine National Police.

Among the topics lectured were Anti-Terrorism Law, Youth Infiltration, CNTs recruitment scheme, overview of TESDA courses and livelihood programs, PhilHealth coverage to FRs, livelihood orientation, and interventions that would address their immediate needs.

Each of the former rebels also received a sack of rice, food packs of canned goods and noodles, and cash assistance.

Alyas Joross, one of the beneficiaries, expressed his gratitude to the government and 79th IB for initiating this kind of symposium and for the early Christmas blessings.

“Labis ang aking pasasalamat sa gobyerno at mga sundalo dahil sa walang tigil na pag kalinga sa amin. Hindi ko pinagsisihan ang aking pag balik-loob dahil ang tinatamasa ko ngayon na tahimik at maayos na pamumuhay ay hindi ko naranasan noong ako ay nasa kilusan pa.”

Ms. Jenie M. Macalipsay, PSWD— E-CLIP focal person said, “our government is doing the best it can to help you and we also hope that you will do your part to help the government in building a better community.”

For his part, Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Alvaran, Commanding Officer of 79IB, enjoined the FRs to become agents of change and advocates of peace and development.

“I urged all of you to never look back on the path of violence. Be productive and continue to live your lives in peace with your families. Be a good example to your former comrades and help us encourage them to join us in the pursuit of peace. We, together with other concerned agencies of the government will continue to guide you as you transition to become productive members of the society.”

“This yuletide season, 79th IB wants to extend the meaning of sharing and bring a message of hope with this simple present that will add to their Christmas celebration. May this remind all of us that we have so much to be grateful for despite the trials brought about by the pandemic,” Ltc Alvaran added.