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Army official lauds Leyte’s support to SIP

By Provincial Media Relations Center
October 25, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY  –  The provincial government of Leyte was admired by a top military official in the region for its support to the Social Integration Program (SIP) of the government.

Maj. Gen. Arthur Tabaquero, commanding general of the 8thInfantry Division, said Leyte province is very responsive as far as the SIP is concerned and is particularly supportive by means of providing financial assistance to former rebels voluntarily surrendering to start a new life in mainstream society.

The provincial government of Leyte has been providing counterpart basic assistance to rebel returnees here in Leyte in the amount of P7,000.

This amount is the province’s counterpart to the P20,000 immediate assistance, P50,000 in kind like farm implements and fertilizer under the Social Integration Program started by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

Following a study conducted in 2007, results showed the need for involvement of the local government unit in the monitoring as well as interventions, with a program on healing and reconciliation also required.

Thus, President Arroyo issued Administrative Order 172 creating the National Committee on Social Integration. The social integration committee was created to train rebel returnees and give them the opportunities available.

Before receiving the P20,000 economic assistance, the rebel returnees were trained to do small time businesses through the Department of Trade and Industry, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, provincial agriculture office, provincial veterinary office, and the technology livelihood and development center. Values formation also forms part of the training.

On top of this, a rebel returnee will get additional cash if he or she surrenders with a firearm, P50,000 for high-powered firearms and P20,000 for short firearms under the government’s Balik Baril Program.

Meanwhile, in the recent Peace and Order Council Meeting for Leyte province, Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla through the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) asked for fasttracking of documents of rebel returnees so they can immediately be released of their financial assistance.

For this year, the PSWDO reports that 28 rebel returnees have already received their financial assistance from the provincial government following completion of documents with the Joint AFP-PNP Intelligence Committee (JAPIC).