(The Philippine Star) | Updated September 3, 2014 - 12:00am
Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas receives firearms from former NPA rebels during a turnover ceremony in Malaybalay City Sunday.
MALAYBALAY CITY, Philippines – Bukidnon Gov. Jose Ma. Zubiri Jr. has urged President Aquino to pursue a peace dialogue with communist rebels.
Zubiri made the appeal before dozens of former communist rebels who witnessed the launching and turnover of the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) at the Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade here last Sunday.
He asked Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas to relay his message to the President. He said to achieve lasting peace, the government should start talking peace with the rebels.
“Let us start talking peace here, at least, in Bukidnon,” Zubiri said.
Roxas was in Bukidnon to facilitate the launching and turnover of the CLIP livelihood assistance to 66 former communist rebels who surrendered to government forces last May 2.
Zubiri challenged the communist guerrillas to talk peace with the government.
If they can hear me, I offer them my hand of peace,” he said.
Roxas said each of the 66 former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) would receive P65,000 under the government’s local integration program.
Zubiri said the former rebels would also receive P50,000 from the provincial government.
He admitted the local government could not help the former rebels in terms of jobs, but he expressed optimism that they would be able to start a new life with the CLIP in time for Bukidnon’s centennial celebration.
Roxas tasked DILG regional director Rene Burdeos to ensure that the former rebels maximize the livelihood assistance.
The launch and turnover of the livelihood program came hours after communist rebels bombed a tower of a telephone company in Impasugong town, also in Bukidnon.