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Rebels give up arms for new lives, own land

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President Rodrigo Duterte, accompanied by Sen. Bong Go (L), leads the distribution of benefits to former rebels at the San Isidro Central School in Leyte on Thursday, 23 January 2020. (PND)

President Rodrigo Duterte made an offer of a new life and livelihood to communist insurgents in Leyte if they return to the fold of the law.

In a speech during the distribution of benefits to former rebels on Thursday, the President said the revolution being waged by the New People’s Army  can’t solve the country’s problems.

One of the solutions: Break the feudal system in the countryside.

“The 2,200 hectares — tell your crazy comrades to get down here because they won’t be a part of the distribution if they aren’t here,” the President told the former rebels.

So far, the government has distributed 140,000 hectares of land since President Duterte’s assumption into power in 2016.

Leyte local officials said there are 2,000 hectares that could be distributed to farmer beneficiaries.

“I will give all the lands to the Filipino,” the President added, stressing he wants those parcels of land be released to beneficiaries in three months.

Once the lands are distributed, the Department of Agriculture will assist farmers in analyzing the soil to determine the suitable crop that could be grown in those locations.

The President also underscored the importance of education to help people get out of poverty, advising his audience to send their children to school to break the cycle of poverty in their area.

“Your children will not be able to escape poverty, never get to be educated. In the Philippines, what’s important is for your children to have education. That is the only way for you to get out of poverty,” the President said.

Also on Thursday, the commander-in-chief expressed his gratitude to the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Leyte provincial government, National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, Task Force Balik-Loob and other agencies for their initiatives on the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

“Your contribution is vital to the progress of our goal here. I hope that our progress will continue through our government programs to someday put an end to the communist insurgency as well as bring peace and prosperity to our communities,” said the President.

During the event, eight representatives of 262 former rebels received the multi-million financial aid from the President. The former rebels were also given remuneration for their firearms.

A P5-million check intended for the construction of a half-way house for the former rebels was also turned over by President Duterte to a Leyte provincial task force.

Local government unites affected by Typhoon “Ursula” in December also got financial assistance—P10 million for Leyte and P5 million for Tacloban City.  Other Leyte municipalities were given P3 million each. (PND)

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