CAMP CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal – Twenty two former rebels received Php680,000 worth of grants from the government during the launching of Laguna’s Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF ELCAC) during a ceremony at Sta Cruz on Wednesday.

Col Alex Rillera, Commander of the 202nd Infantry Brigade which has operational jurisdiction in the area, said that “the ceremony is a manifestation of the government’s sincerity in its call for NPA terrorists to return to mainstream society in the name of lasting peace, national unity and reconciliation.”

He added that seven of the former rebels were regulars who received Php 65,000 each while the militias were given Php15,000 each. The former rebels will be receiving additional compensation from other government agencies in the coming days such as educational, housing and employment among others as mandated by E-CLIP.

He expressed confidence that “through the government’s concerted effort at all echelons, we will be able to address the prevailing social issues in the the soonest possible time thereby denying the NPAs the propaganda which they exploit to recruit our people and further their terroristic objectives.”

Following the President’s Executive Order Number 70, Laguna became the second province of Region 4A to officially launch and activate its PTF ELCAC. Quezon Province was the first to do so during a ceremony last October 10 at Infanta, Quezon that was attended by the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año.

Aside from launching and awarding E-CLIP entitlements during the event, the Provincial Peace and Order Office of Laguna promoted awareness on the roles and responsibilities of each PTF ELCAC cluster heads. This was followed by the crafting of action plan which will serve as the blueprint in sustaining the province’s distinction as an insurgency free locality.

Major General Arnulfo Marcelo B Burgos Jr, Commander of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division which covers Southern Tagalog, said that the “headways that the people are gaining in our fight against insurgency is an indicator that peace, prosperity and development are within reach.”

He added that the creation of Task Force ELCAC in Laguna is a testament to the provincial government’s genuine desire to once and for all eradicate the menace of communist insurgency.

He ended his statement by calling on the few remaining NPA terrorists “to put down their arms, live peaceful lives with your families, especially now that Christmas is fast approaching, and join the entire nation in finding solutions to our country’s problems.”