PGMA awards P1.14M to 57 rebel-returnees under Social Integration Program
Manila (24 February) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo awarded a total of P1.14 million as immediate economic assistance, under the government's Social Integration Program (SIP), to 57 rebel-returnees in simple rites at the Heroes Hall in Malacanang.
Each of the rebel-returnees received P20,000 as immediate cash aid to start life anew in mainstream society. The 57 rebel-returnees are from the Cordillera Autonomous Region (6), Pampanga (13), Panay Island (7), Bicol (5), and Caraga (26). Eight of them are women.
Aside from the P20,000 immediate cash, the rebel-returnees are also entitled to P50,000 under the SIP as capital assistance in the form of working animals, farm implements, and/or and sari-sari store goods, among others to help them rebuild their economic and social lives.
If they surrender their M16 or M14 rifles, they will also each receive an additional P50,000 for each firearm, and equitable amounts for similar firearms, explosives or ammunition surrendered.
To give rebel-returnees better direction under the SIP, they are to undergo seminar-workshops where they are briefed and acquainted with other program opportunities for them, including livelihood packages, employment, training and education assistance.
The seminars will also enable them to have better access to basic services and other social amelioration programs of government which they may be qualified.
The SIP involves a process whereby former rebels and their dependents are provided a set of interventions to facilitate their integration into mainstream social life. It provides a framework for the convergence and cooperation among local government units, state line agencies, non-government organizations (NGOs) and the community as well.
Among the partners of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) are the Department of Education (DepEd), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), National Food Authority (NFA), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), and DILG.
Presently, the OPAPP is working with selected LGUs in the creation of the latter's Local Social Integration Committees (LSIC) designed to help sustain and strengthen the implementation of the SIP at the local level.
The SIP was officially launched on June 18, 2008 and in the last seven (7) months of its operation, it has already benefited some 331 rebel-returnees from all over the country.
Rolando Marzan, a rebel fugitive for 10 years and one of the 57 latest SIP benefiaries, regretted having joined the communist guerrilla movement during which time he lost his family.
"I would like to thank the government for giving us new hope. Our lives were destroyed by ideology. We will not go back to our dark past. We will start a new life for a better tomorrow," he said in Filipino. (PIA-MMIO) [top]