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PIA Press Release

OPAPP prioritizes former rebels thru social integration program in government services

By Jonnie H. Buenaventura

Tacloban City (3 June) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) has formulated measures to allow former rebels a satisfactory return to mainstream society and peaceful way of living.

According to Sec. Cynthia R. Nierras, Presidential Adviser for the Visayas and Chair of the Regional KALAHI Convergence Group (RKCG) who spearheads the RKCG meeting at National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA-8) conference room on June 02, the joint undertaking calls for the national offices and Local Government Units (LGUs) to work hand in hand to provide "full provisions of livelihood assistance" to the rebel returnees and their dependents and to provide a mechanism that will protect their rights and interest.

Sec. Nierras further elaborated that all government agencies are mandated to establish their programs and services which would cater the needs of the rebel returnees thru social integration program as a means of identifying the necessary program and services that should be offered.

With the identification of agencies resource mapping, the gaps of the programs of the national government to help former rebels on its pro-poor and peace process will now be eliminated and the discontentment of the rebel returnees will now be satisfied, she said.

In Leyte, 33 former rebels under the Social Integration Program (SIP) had been provided immediate assistance by the OPAPP and had receive Php. 20,000 per former rebels, remuneration of firearms being surrendered, livelihood training and livelihood assistance of Php. 50,000 in the form of goods, said Bryan Yasay, Operations Officer of OPAPP.

Mr. Yasay informed that the social integration program being implemented by OPAPP is ongoing and it is implicated in other parts of the region particularly the three provinces in Samar (Western Samar, Eastern Samar and Northern Samar), Southern Leyte and Biliran is not included in the intervention for their was no sightings in the presence of rebels, he said.

Mr. Yasay said that the program provide safety measures so that it would not be abused by former rebels who return to mainstream society and go back to the arm struggle against the government.

He said that the program components of social integration program under OPAPP focuses four strategic components, community awareness and acceptance, force and arm management, socio-economic intervention and monitoring and evaluation plan.

The said strategic components can be replicated under the Local Social Integration Program (LSIP) by the Local Government Units (LGUs) to guide them in drafting measures in the intervention program in uplifting the well-being of the former rebels, Mr. Yasay said.

According to Melody Ibo of OPAPP the pro-poor and peace process (poverty-reduction and ensuring peace) of the social integration program provide transition and reintegration of former rebels to return to their normal life by providing complete assistance which would redound to the benefits of former rebels and their dependents and convince their former comrades to return to the mainstream society and live a peaceful life.

In the whole country a total of 501 former rebels had availed of the program, 294 firearms were surrendered and 14 Local Social Integration Councils (LSICs) had been organized during the period 2008 to date as showed in the data of the OPAPP.

Ms. Melody informed that part of the objectives of the OPAPP is to collect and dispose surrendered firearms, explosives and ammunitions used in insurgency and rebellion. (PIA-8) [top]

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