E-CLIP can be key to peace in Mindanao – DSWD

By Zaldy De Layola

November 23, 2023, 8:48 pm

<p>Former rebels <em>(File photo)</em></p>

Former rebels (File photo)

MANILA – Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Undersecretary Alan A. Tanjusay on Thursday expressed “full confidence” that peace in Mindanao under the leadership of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will soon be achieved through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) and other related initiatives.

During the weekly media forum at the DSWD Central Office in Quezon City, Tanjusay manifested the great success of E-CLIP citing the growing number of former rebels (FRs) and former violent extremists (FVEs) who surrendered to return to the social mainstream.

He said E-CLIP has been doing well through its socio-economic interventions – financial assistance and cash-for-work opportunities, among others.

Among the beneficiaries of the program, aside from their respective families, are former members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and former extremists from the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

For Calendar Year 2023, the DSWD had served some 907 ex-MNLF members as of Nov. 23, with the amount disbursed reaching about PHP40 million.

On Tuesday, DSWD provided cash grants to some 322 former ASG members. As part of their integration process into their communities, they were given seed capital and emergency cash assistance to enable them to lead normal lives.

These former extremists came mostly from the municipalities of Patikul, Talipao, Indanan and Maimbung in Sulu province.

“Nakita natin na ang pangunahing dahilan kung bakit sila naging rebelde ay kahirapan. Halos lahat sila ay hindi nakapag-aral at dahil sa sobrang kawalan ay madali silang ma-recruit (We found out that the primary cause why they became rebels is poverty. Almost all of them have not gone to school and due to extreme poverty, they can easily be recruited),” Tanjusay said.

In coordination with the local government units, he said the DSWD and other agencies concerned like the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Department of Health (DOH), etc. were able to provide the needed interventions and assistance to the FRs and FVEs, as well as their families.

From Calender Year 2015 to 2023, the DSWD has served 26,132 decommissioned combatants (DCs). He said the amount disbursed for this is PHP2.6 billion, adding that they still have 6,142 DCs remaining targets.

Tanjusay said the program, under the initiative of DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian and in line with President Marcos's aim to bring peace to Mindanao, would be a big success.

He said Gatchalian is set to put up three Peace and Development Regional Project Management (PDRPM) in Regions 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula), 11 (Davao) and 12 (Soccsksargen) to enhance the capacity of the DSWD.

These regional offices, he added, would employ social workers who could ably reach out and bring peace programs to vulnerable areas in the said regions. (PNA)