CAMP OSITO BAHIAN, Malaybalay City (PIA)—One hundred former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Bukidnon—mostly indigenous people—performed a tribal ritual for a lucky start as they move to their new homes built by the government through the National Housing Authority (NHA).
All in the background of traditional tribal chants, a solemn prayer officiated by a ‘Datu (chieftain)’ opens the event in Pineville Subdivision at Barangay San Jose in Malaybalay City to give thanks to the “Magbabaya (Creator).”
Fomer NPA rebel Pepe Signawan, one of the beneficiaries of NHA’s 100 housing units, said they are lucky because not everyone can afford to get a house.
“We offer this ceremony to thank God and give government the honor for providing each one of us a new home where we can peacefully start a productive life. On behalf of my colleagues [former rebels] who received 100 housing units, I formally thank the provincial governor, NHA, the Philippine Army, and President Rodrigo Duterte for giving us a good place to live in. Your kindness and generosity will be gratefully remembered,” Signawan said in dialect.
In a brief message highlighting the event, NHA-10 Regional Manager Rolando Teves said everyone knows that building a house is not an easy process.
“We recognized the necessity of the request of our partner agencies in the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC) and the plight of the former rebels on the delays in securing documents to build a house. Thus, NHA made it easier by providing housing assistance,” Teves said.
To mark the significance of the event, some tribal chieftains, along with Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representative Datu Antonio Veluz; former rebels’ clan; Bukidnon police officers; and Philippine Army officials led by Deputy Brigade Commander Col. Jose Arn M. Real—including the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) committee members of the TF-ELCAC—witnessed the tribal rites.
Explicitly, Brig. General Ferdinand T. Barandon, commander of the 403rd Infantry (Peacemaker) Brigade said they are expecting more NPA terrorists to surrender.
“After NHA has announced the allocation of P1 Billion worth of fund for the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP housing assistance for rebel returnees, we believe that more NPAs will be enticed to surrender and go back to folds of the law,” Barandon said. (CMO, 403Bde, 4ID, PA/PIA-10/PIA Bukidnon)