BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
A P5 million halfway house for former rebels will soon rise inside the Camp Leon Kilat headquarters of the 302nd Infantry Brigade, in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental.
Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo, Department of Interior and Local Government Region 7 director Leocadio Trovela, and Col. Leonardo Peña, 302nd IB commander, led the groundbreaking rites on July 5.
Peña said the project aims to facilitate the mainstreaming of former rebels into productive citizens.
This activity is a manifestation that the national government and the provincial government of Negros Oriental are serious in their efforts to achieve the goal for permanent and peaceful closure of all armed conflicts with non-state armed groups, he added.
Degamo thanked DILG and the Department of National Defense through the Task Force Balik-Loob, the Provincial E-CLIP or Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program Committee and the Army leadership in the province for making this activity a reality, as well as all the participating member agencies.
Peña, who read the message of AFP chief of staff Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, who was supposed to personally witness the activity, but had cancelled to attend to an emergency engagement in Mindanao due to the C-130 plane crash in Sulu, said the activity marks the beginning of a new life for rebel returnees.
There is no better way to welcome them than by offering them a home where they can feel safe and secure as they rebuild their lives in a peaceful and progressive community, Sobejana said in his message.
Trovela said the halfway house is needed to serve as a temporary shelter for former rebels, who have returned to the folds of the law.
He added that livelihood trainings and other interventions will be conducted in the facility to prepare them for their reintegration into mainstream society.*