Apayao – In a significant move towards peace and reconciliation, the Apayao provincial government awarded PHP500,000 each to six former rebels as part of their reintegration into society. The cash aid was distributed in a ceremony attended by the beneficiaries and government officials.
According to Philippines News Agency, The recipients, including a 20-year-old former rebel identified as 'Ka Axel', expressed gratitude for the assistance, which they see as a substantial step in starting anew and reuniting with their families. The financial aid is part of the provincial government's efforts to address insurgency, complemented by commitments from various government agencies like the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Labor and Employment, and others as part of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP). Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., who administered the oath of allegiance to the former rebels, emphasized the value of freedom and peace over monetary aid, praising Apayao's commitment to peace and security.
The event also included the presentation of confiscated and surrendered war materials by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to Teodoro. These included six M16 rifles, a grenade launcher, an M653 rifle, and other explosive devices. Teodoro highlighted the dangers posed by landmines and expressed relief at their confiscation. The initiative reflects a broader strategy to encourage rebels to surrender and reintegrate into society, emphasizing local government autonomy in managing peace and order situations.