CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – Twenty-nine Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) former rebels received livelihood package from the provincial government of Maguindanao last Monday (August 5, 2019).
The ceremony was held at the Provincial Capitol in Buluan, Maguindanao witnessed by actor and peace advocate Robin Padilla, Maguindanao town Mayors Rafsanjani P. Ali of General Salipada K. Pendatun and Abdulkarim Langkuno of Paglat, 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade Commander Col. Efren P. Baluyot, 40th Infantry Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Rogelio S. Gabi, Maguindanao Police Provincial Director Police Colonel Arnold C. Santiago, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-BARMM Director Janice Musali, and Department of Agriculture-BARMM Director Datun M. Nur
The rebels previously surrendered to 33rd Infantry Battalion under Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc on May 09, 2018 with the help of the local officials and their families in hope that they will be given appropriate assistance to help them re-integrate and start their new lives in the communities.
More than a year after they laid down their arms, the livelihood assistance were given as promised by the government through the effort of 40th Infantry Battalion who just assumed operational jurisdiction of the municipalities of GSKP, Paglat, Paglas, Pandag, Buluan, Mangudadatu, and Sultan Sabarongis (5 barangays) all of Maguindanao, and Lutayan and President Quirino of Sultan Kudarat.
Lt. Col Gabi sought the help of the newly-elected Maguindanao Governor Bai Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu in providing livelihood assistance to the former rebels to help them live their normal lives.
The BIFF surrenderees received 20 units of agricultural machineries, 20 sacks of rice seedlings, 13 fishing boats, fishnets, and 60 packs of assorted groceries.
The two mayors from GSKP and Paglat towns, where the former rebels hailed from, expressed their gratitude to the governor for providing the assistance to the former rebels. They also recognized the efforts of the 40th Infantry Battalion for the initiative and efforts for the surrenderees .
“Programs like these provide a forum where all stakeholders can be brought together to address peace and security challenges in Mindanao with the hope that more extremist fighters will lay down their arms and return to the folds of the law,” said Governor Sangki-Mangudadatu.
The Governor also encouraged the former rebels to discourage their friends and relatives from joining the extremist groups for the sake of their families
Mr. Padilla, in his message, inspired the former rebels with stories of his own experiences as an actor that personifies freedom fighters in his movies that fought for the oppressed people and shared his advocacy of helping alleviate the plight of the moro people.
Col. Baluyot stressed that the activity showcased the convergence of the local government units, government agencies, and other stakeholders in promoting peace in the communities in a classic example of the whole of nation approach in nurturing an environment conducive for sustainable development.
He also emphasized that resorting to violent means is not the solution to the social problems in Maguindanao because it will only bring more problems and further hamper the development of Maguindanao.
Meanwhile, the Commander of 6th Infantry Division, Maj. Gen. Diosdado C. Carreon, commended the efforts of the military, the governments units and the governments agencies involved to provide livelihood assistance to the former rebels as part of the government’ Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
“We are hoping that the assistance of the government will bring betterment in their lives and will set an example to their former group to go back to mainstream society,” Maj. Gen. Carreon said.