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Palace to take full responsibility for ‘dole-outs’ to rebels

After getting criticisms on the matter, Malacañang on Saturday said it will take full responsibility for at least P36 million in “aid" to communist and secessionist rebel groups.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda also insisted the Palace is not blaming the previous administrations for the financial agreements that resulted in what critics called “dole-outs" to the rebels.

“The P5 million and P31 million... we take full responsibility for that and that’s why we are defending the [allocation of the money]. Former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno has said we can always cancel them... that’s true. [But] based on recommendations, these are worth pursuing," Lacierda said on government-run dzRB radio.

He was referring to the P5 million given to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to set up a leadership institute, and P31 million to the Alex Boncayao Brigade [breakaway urban hit squad of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA)] for livelihood projects.

Critics, including some Catholic bishops, had scored the Palace for such “dole-outs" to rebel groups.

“We are going to provide as livelihood programs for rebel returnees. All we are saying is we are outlining the timeline and these are borne out by documents," he said.

When asked if the Palace is standing by the “aid," Lacierda said, “Yes... we are taking full responsibility."

On the other hand, Lacierda chided some bishops for criticizing the aid, saying they may have been “misinformed" about the situation.

One such bishop, Lipa Archbishop and former military vicar Ramon Arguelles, was quoted as saying he found the news about the dole-outs “very distressing."

“It will mean more dead soldiers, widows and orphans. It is paying them [rebels] to destroy our country. It’s like arming the enemy. They might use to buy arms so that they can become stronger," Arguelles was quoted as saying.

“Mahalaga sa rebel returnees, after spending so long sa bundok we have to orient their frame of mind. We provide them livelihood programs, and means by which to reintegrate themselves to the community," Lacierda said.

“This is not bribery, this is assistance to them," he added.

He also insisted that such “aid" can positively affect the peace process, to “prove the government is sincere so they will be able to become constructive members of society once more."

“Those opposed to that are perhaps afraid [na mababawasan] ang mga kasama nilang rebelde sa bundok that’s why they are saying it’s a dole-out," he added. — LBG, GMA News


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