PEACE PACT. Former rebels and government officials sign a memorandum of agreement to completely eradicate insurgency in Samar province in this June 5, 2023 photo. Among the roles of the peacebuilders are ensuring that rebels will no longer be able to recruit new members, encourage active NPA members to surrender, and support government programs on ending insurgency. (Photo courtesy of Samar provincial government)

TACLOBAN CITY – The Samar provincial government and three peacebuilders' groups consisting of former communist rebels signed a pact to completely eradicate insurgency in the province.

Governor Sharee Ann Tan, chair of the Samar provincial task force to end local communist armed conflict (PTF-ELCAC), said on Friday the task force recently signed a pact with officers of three peacebuilders’ groups in the towns of Basey, San Jose de Buan, and Villareal towns.

The government has labeled former rebels as peacebuilders and formed them into associations.

“We are happy that these former NPA (New People’s Army) rebels have decided to support the government and we are just here to support them. Let us help them change their views about the government,” Tan told reporters.

The agreement consists of the different responsibilities of the peacebuilders and the PTF-ELCAC member agencies.

Among the roles of the peacebuilders are ensuring that the NPA will no longer be able to recruit new members, encouraging active NPA members to surrender, and supporting government programs on ending insurgency.

“The PTF-ELCAC, on the other hand, adhered to its task of providing the benefits under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) and Local Social Integration Program (LSIP), provide livelihood assistance and capacity development training to the peacebuilders, and ensure the continuous delivery of social services, among others,” the governor said.

The task force and officers of group of former rebels signed the memorandum of agreement on June 5, at the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division headquarters in Catbalogan City.

In 2020, an agreement was entered into by then governor Reynolds Michael Tan and the officers of Calbiga, Pinabacdao, and Motiong- Paranas peacebuilder groups.

The provincial task force, through its local peace engagement panel, is set to continue localized peace dialogues with other groups from other towns, “with the intention of closing an agreement in pursuit of ending insurgency and sustaining the gains of peace,” according to the provincial government.

On June 5, a total of 41 former rebels received their financial package from the LSIP of the provincial government.

Through the LSIP, the local government allotted funds for cash assistance and provided other services to former communist terrorist group members as they return to the folds of the law.

The benefits are on top of the other assistance provided through the E-CLIP program.

For the LSIP, a former NPA combatant receives PHP25,000 as immediate assistance, PHP50,000 livelihood assistance, and PHP25,000 per firearm surrendered.

Every former Militia ng Bayan member is entitled to PHP10,000 immediate assistance, and a PHP25,000 cash reward for every firearm surrendered. Each mass supporter will receive financial assistance of PHP1,000 under LSIP. (PNA)