363 Agusan del Sur former rebels receive socio-economic assistance
By: Dave M. Suyao
PIA-Agusan del Sur
The ground of the D.O. Plaza sports complex was filled with an atmosphere of peace and reforms when 363 former rebels (FRs), clad in white t-shirts, gathered in front of the covered court ready to enter the building and receive the promise of a brighter future that the government have set aside for them.
The 363 former rebels who signified themselves to go back to the folds of the law, are part of the original 418 that were listed by the Philippine Army and the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWD) and were forwarded to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) prior to the effectivity of Administrative Order 172 which takes effect on March 23, 2007.
As part of the process, on March 28 and 29, 2009, the PSWD, together with the men in uniform from the 402nd Infantry Brigade under the command of Col. Emiliano Gupana and Lt. Col. Andres Centino of the 26th IB conducted validation, profiling and final briefing to the FRs, while the Department of Trade and Industry Agusan del Sur field office under the direct supervision of provincial director Lolita Dorado demonstrated actual sinamay weaving and other livelihood projects that the FRs may engage into after receiving the socio-economic assistance that they will receive.
Speaking in Visayan, Gov. Maria Valentina “Tina” Plaza said she can not find the right word to express the joy she felt in her heart seeing the more that 300 former rebels in front of her when she entered the covered court.
“Dili matukib ang akong gibating kalipay nga magtan-aw sa inyong gidaghanon nga mikabat ug 363 ka tao nga nagpakita sa inyong ka sinsero nga nagbalik sa sabakan sa gobyerno. Labi na gayod sa dihang tagsa tagsa ko kamo nga gilamano ug nanagsugat ang atong tinanwan sa dihang inyo nang gidawat ang tag P20,000 nga hinabang gikan sa gobyerno. Akong panghinaut nga unta inyong ibutang sa inyong hunahuna nga wala kamo kalimti sa gobyerno ug sa atong mahal nga Presidente, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Kabahin sa panggamhanang probinsyal, ako nag pahibalo kaninyo nga kami andam nga motabang kaninyo sa unsa man nga kaayohan nga inyong mahimo alang sa kalambuan sa inyong kapanginabuhian. (I can not express in words the joy that I feel looking at you, manifesting your sincere intentions to go back to the folds of the law, especially when we shake hands and look at each other in the eyes when you receive the P20,000 each, from the government. All I wish, you will always bear in mind that the government and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is always there for you. In our part in the provincial government, I am sincerely telling you that we are always ready to help you in your efforts for the upliftment of your living condition”, Gov. Tina Plaza said.
In his message, guest of honor and speaker OPAPP Undersecretary Ret. Gen. Pedro Cesar Rambaonga said the 363 former rebels will now be called “Mga Kauban sa Reporma alang sa Kalambuan”, (Allies in development reforms).
Also in Visayan, Usec Ramboanga said being allies in development reforms, he is looking forward that the once before 363 FRs fighting against the government will become instruments and models in bringing lasting peace not only in the province of Agusan del Sur, but throughout the country.
In response, once NPA lecturer and propagandist now army Corporal under Task Force Diamond in Davao City Rowena Napungahan, said how hard life was when she and her family, Datu Mario Napungahan, were still with the rebel movement. But when she and her family decided to go back to the folds of the law, they were enlightened how they wasted part of their life in the hiding when they were still with the rebel movement, having experienced the sincere efforts and assistance that the government have extended them at present.
Each rebel received P20,000 cash assistance personally handed to them by Gov. Tina Plaza and OPAPP Usec Pedro Cesar Rambaonga, assisted by Col. Emeiliano Gupana of the 402nd Infantry Brigade, NEDA Regional Director Carmencita Cochingco and NCIP Regional Director Jose “jake” Dumagan totaling to almost P7.3 million.
The municipality of San Luis has the highest number of FRs with 118, followed by Bayugan City with 84, La Paz with 74, Sibagat with 48, Esperanza with 33, San Francisco with three, Prosperidad with two and Loreto with only one, totaling to 363 former rebels.
Sectors in Cebu merged to push anew for Reproductive Health bill
The province of Cebu is not anti-Reproductive Health bill as claimed by RH oppositionists. Despite strong opposition by some leaders of the Catholic Church, civil society organizations, leaders from the academe and youth sector launched today the group that will strongly push for the passage of the Reproductive Health and Population Development bill.
The Reproductive Health Advocacy Network-Cebu (RHAN-Cebu), a group created to unify different sectors in Cebu to support the passage of the Reproductive Health and Population Development, will lead massive reproductive health education campaigns through the tri-media down to community discussions.
Ramon San Pascual, Executive Director of the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD), lauds RHAN-Cebu for standing bravely despite the strong opposition shown by Catholic hierarchy. “We are glad that people are already taking up the cudgels to show legislators the public clamor for a reproductive health.” San Pascual said.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Angsioco, Secretary General of the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) welcomes this development. “Cebu is a critical area for the national campaign on reproductive health,” said Angsioco. “The creation of RHAN-CEBU is a welcome development that truly supports a nationwide clamor for the passage of reproductive health bill,” she added.
Ms. Judy Aguilar, RHAN-Cebu said, “We created RHAN-CEBU because we see the urgency in passing the reproductive health bill. We believe passage of this bill will ensure that maternal and child health care will improve, unwanted pregnancies and abortions will be prevented. Aguilar stressed, “We are particularly concerned about abortion since there is a noted increase in abortion cases in Central Visayas.” “We believe that a comprehensive national law that will ensure reproductive health education and services, will help reduce if not eliminate abortions,” Aguilar concluded. (Vigie Benosa-Llorin, PLCPDFI/PIA-Caraga)