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PIA Press Release

PGMA reaffirms commitment to end insurgency in 2010

Manila (5 March) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reaffirmed her administration' s strong commitment and resolve to put an end to insurgency problem in 2010, as well as underscoring the importance of peace to the country's march towards sustainable development.

"Peace is an essential ingredient for progress and development," the President stressed as she formally welcomed the 18 former communist rebels from Central Luzon who have given up their armed struggle in favor of living a peaceful and productive life.

The Chief Executive said the return to the fold of law of the former rebels and the peace the government has unceasingly endeavored to build?and promote are pillars the country needs to push itself towards prosperity.

"Today, we embrace our rebel brothers in the fold and spirit of unity and reconciliation," she said.

Appreciating the former rebels' surrender initiative, the President assured them their decision will not be in vain.

She called on them to work hand-in-hand with government for the welfare of their families and the nation.

"You do not need to sacrifice your lives for the future of your families and the nation. The sacrifice of hard work and persistence is what we, together, shall undertake," she stressed.

To show the government's sincere efforts to help them return to mainstream society, the President handed them certificates of livelihood assistance in simple rites at the Natividad National High School covered court in Barangay Natividad in Pampanga.

The livelihood assistance, worth P50,000 each, forms part of the government's Social Reintegration Program (SIP) being undertaken by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

For rebels-returnees Gil Abalajen, his daughter Mariel and Rolando Dabu Marzan, the government's initiative is the substantive solution against poverty and not the communist ideology they embraced for years.

Gil, an erstwhile squad leader of the Rebolusyonaryong Hukbong Bayan based in Pampanga, said his years of futile armed struggle merely earned him more miseries and hardships.

He said he joined the New People's Army (NPA) in 1998 but decided to surrender last year after he heard of the government's program to help rebel returnees return to normal community life.

"I would like to thank the President for helping us to re-integrate into mainstream society. Because of this program, I would now be able to feed my family through a modest livelihood project we will undertake," he said in the vernacular.

For Mariel, who is only 15 years old, the future now looks brighter as she will be provided by the government with an educational assistance. She said she will study earnestly and prepare for a better future.

The 40-yeard old Marzan, on the other hand, said his reintegration gives him more time with his family, from whom he was often separated during his involvement in the futile armed struggle.

The three rebels-returnees are among the beneficiaries of the government's various assistance packages under its Social Integration Program (SIP).

Officially launched on June 18, 2008. the SIP has already benefited 235?rebel-returnees nationwide In the last seven months. (PND) [top]

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