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50 BIFF members ‘return to fold’

November 21, 2022 Jun I. Legaspi 250 views

DEPARTMENT of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos, Jr. welcomes 50 former violent extremists (FVEs) members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) back to the folds of the law in Sultan Kudarat with the promise of extending government support under the “Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program” (E-CLIP).

“The government under President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. remains committed in its peace and order initiatives, tatrabahuhin po natin iyan. At ngayon, kasama ang 50 FVEs dito sa Sultan Kudarat, ako po ay nagagalak sa pagpili ninyo sa daan ng kapayapaan,” Abalos said.

“Asahan n’yo na ang inyong pamahalaan ay nakaalalay sa inyo sa pagbalik ninyo sa inyong mga pamilya at sa lipunan,” he added.

Abalos said that all 50 FVE surrenderers, upon proper documentation, can be eligible to receive government support under the E-CLIP initiative.

He said the DILG field office in Sultan Kudarat is in continuous coordination with the local government unit (LGU) to ensure that the FVEs will be granted due support as they join the mainstream society.

He said that by surfacing and returning to the folds of the law to become productive citizens of the society, FVEs and former rebels and militia members can take advantage of E-CLIP’s assistance that covers livelihood, education, housing, medical assistance; receive monetary remuneration for each firearm surrendered; and other social services crucial to their reintegration into society.

“Pinasasalamatan natin ang ating mga FVE na nagdesisyon na iwanan ang kanilang buhay na puno ng karahasan at bumalik sa kanilang mga pamilya upang maging produktibong bahagi ng lipunan. Kasama n’yo po kami sa landas na ito,” he said.

The DILG Chief said that under the E-CLIP initiative, some 611 former rebels and their families received a total of P45.79-million in financial and livelihood assistance since July 2022.

According to the report of DILG Region 12, 47 of said FVEs received a collective amount of P540,000 wherein 15 received P20,000 each; 16 FVEs with P10,000 each; and, 16 received P5,000 each from the Provincial Government of Sultan Kudarat under the “Kakep Ka Su Kalilintad” or “Embracing the Peace” campaign. Three of the FVEs were not able to attend the event.

Abalos said, “We thank the Sultan Kudarat provincial government for extending their assistance to our FVEs. Kasunod naman nito ay ang tulong mula sa pamahalaan sa pamamagitan ng E-CLIP.”

The Sultan Kudarat provincial government likewise handed out 47 food packs which included rice, assorted canned goods, and instant noodles packs.

Abalos said all necessary steps for the inclusion of FVEs as recipients of E-CLIP are now being undertaken. “Tinatrabaho na po natin ito katuwang ang LGU.” He likewise said close monitoring of the FVEs shall be conducted to ensure proper utilization of government livelihood and financial assistance.

DILG Region 12 said the 50 FVEs surrendered following a police operation of the Sultan Kudarat Provincial Police-Provincial Intelligence Unit under the supervision of Police Coronel Christopher Bermudez and led by Police Lieutenant Coronel Bryan Bernardino.

The FVEs likewise surrendered to the Philippine National Police (PNP) numerous assorted high-powered firearms and one crew-served weapon (mortar), and improvised explosive devices.

They have been tagged and tied to the various bombing incidents in various places and attacks against police or military detachments in the region.

Abalos was joined by Sultan Kudarat Governor Datu Pax Ali S. Mangudadatu, PNP Police Regional Office 12 Regional Director Police Brigadier General Jimili Macaraeg and DILG Region 12 Regional Director Josephine Cabrido- Leysa, and the local chief executives of all the Sultan Kudarat towns and one city.

Former Governor Suharto T. Mangudadatu and his wife, Maguindanao Gov. Bai Mariam S. Mangudadatu, along with Cong. Bai Princess Rihan Sakaluran was also present to witness the surrender of 50 FVEs.