CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Dec. 2 (PIA) -- Some 94 firearms turned-in by former members of the New People's Army (NPA) and Militia ng Bayan in Bukidnon province were destroyed during a demilitarization ceremony held inside the 4th Infantry Division camp last week.
The firearms were cut using circular saws to ensure that no parts of the firearms could be re-used or recycled.
The demilitarized firearms consisted of 13 M16 rifles, 17 M14 rifles, two grenade launcher, one CZ 858 tactical, one 22mm long rifle, ten 12 gauge shotguns, 14 carbine cal.30 rifles, seven cal.45 pistols, one 9mm Uzi, eight cal.38 revolvers, one mini barret, one 5.56mm revolver, 16 improvised handguns, and two improvise rifles.
National Defense Undersecretary and Task Force Balik Loob Chairperson Reynaldo Mapagu said the demilitarization of firearms is the government's way of showing its commitment to ending the local communist armed conflict
"By destroying the means by which the atrocities of the communist terrorist groups are perpetuated, we are showing that we are sincere in creating a more peaceful country for our children and our grandchildren to live in. Also, the demilitarization of firearms is a testament that we are not recycling firearms to pursue corrupt or other unlawful ends," he said.
The destruction of NPA-surrendered firearms in Cagayan de Oro City marked the second demilitarization rites conducted under the government's Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP). The first demilitarization was held in July, this year, in Tagum City and witnessed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
The demilitarization activity dubbed "Kalinaw sa Amihanang Mindanaw" was conducted by the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force on ECLIP (RIATFE) in support to the operationalization of Executive Order No. 70, known as the "whole-of-nation approach" in ending local communist armed conflict.
During the activity, financial assistance packages totaling Php2,862,000 were turned-over by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to 105 former rebels who embraced the path to peace. The financial packages consisted of immediate assistance (Php1,560,000), livelihood assistance (Php950,000), firearms remuneration (Php142,000), and reintegration assistance (Php210,000).
The Department of Social Welfare and Development also distributed cash assistance, sleeping kits, and family food packs while the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority committed to provide skills training and livelihood programs to the former rebels and their families.
Moreover, a check worth Php5 million was handed over to the city government of Cagayan de Oro for the construction of a halfway house.
"The former rebels will now be our partners in championing the retooled community support program (RCSP) as they will be part of the core teams who will immerse in the barangays to mobilize communities into sectoral groups and ushered them to participate in sectoral dialogues," said DILG Assistant Secretary for Peace and Security Alexander Macario
According to him, the RCSP aims to address identified issues of the communities by closing the governance and development gaps through the provision of government services, programs, and projects.
As he welcomed the former rebels to a new peaceful life, he reminded them not to waste the opportunity given to them to start anew with their respective families. Macario also urged them to encourage their comrades to go down and return to the fold of law to avail of E-CLIP packages.
Meanwhile, Mapagu said the Armed Forces of the Philippines recorded a total of 11,969 surrenderees as of October 31, this year, of which 3,593 are either NPA regular fighters or Militia ng Bayan members. The rest are members of the Underground Mass Organization, Sangay ng Partidong Lokalidad, and mass supporters. Of the 3,593 former rebels, 2,991 have already been enrolled in the E-CLIP and have received financial assistance from the DILG. (APB/PIA-10)