OPAPP awards P2-M livelihood assistance to former rebels
By Aida Alcazar-Naz
Legazpi City (16 June) -- Forty kasama sa reporma (KR), as former rebels are now aptly called, received certificates of livelihood equivalent to P50,000 each or a total of P2 million during Friday (June 5) Social Integration Program (SIP) Awarding of Livelihood Certificate at Camarines Sur Agricultural College, Pili, Camarines Sur.
Among the recipients were a couple and a female, who was once a budget officer of the rebel group. Couple Jo and Gil alternately took care of their baby daughter during the awarding program while the former budget officer said she has started working in a government office.
The awarding of certificates was the culmination of a one-week livelihood training at the Department of Agriculture Training Center in Pili town.
The KRs underwent trainings on swine raising, big cattle raising, food processing, tilapia and catfish raising facilitated by DA and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) experts. Staffers from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), on the other hand, discussed Basic Entrepreneur Skills Training.
Starting next week, SIP Southern Luzon Regional Officer Charleston Tan will distribute P45,000 worth of goods on the chosen livelihood of each KR. The remaining P5,000 will serve as cash assistance. In each visit to every KR, Tan will be assisted by the local Social Welfare Officer where the former rebel resides.
During Friday's awarding of certificates, various heads of offices gave their counsel and advise to provide direction to KRs for their return to the fold of the law.
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Asst. Secretary Consuelo P. Cascolan, representative of Secretary Avelino I. Razon, Jr., exhorted the beneficiaries to work hard for the improvement of oneself which will benefit the family and the community as a whole.
BGeneral Tristan Kison, representing Philippine Army's MGen. Ruperto R. Pabustan, recognized the knowledge and wisdom of these men and women for their efforts in supporting the government's peace initiative, the key to progress and development.
P/CSupt. Paterno P. Bangui's message read by P/Sup't Raul Hebrio "salute(d) (the FRs) for taking the right path, a basic step for a new beginning".
Meantime, Fred I. Perdon, Office of the Presidential Assistant for Bicol (OPAB) representative, urged them to go into agricultural pursuit like planting high value crops and tilapia raising.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) representative Rolando Gianfranco meantime, said that the move of the KRs is memorable to line agencies as they will become partners in development and expect more (surrenderees) to come.
The 40 KRs composed of 35 males and 5 females came from Camarines Sur (17), Sorsogon (11), Albay (10) and Masbate (2).
Ben from Albay, who surrendered in 2007, gave the response during the awarding program saying that he joined the New People's Army a year after his elementary graduation. According to him, he was tasked as sniper and eventually joined ambuscades. He also narrated that bus companies and motorized bancas at bagsakan and daungan pay the 'kilusan' P15,000 per month.
Ben further disclosed that all of these are things of the past as he has turned a new leaf (bagong buhay) since kawawa ang mandirigma samantalang an lider maganda ang buhay. (The life of a warrior is difficult but leaders live a good life.) He urged his fellow KRs to stand by their decision "panindigan natin ito, dahil ito ang legal".
Apart from the P50,000 capital assistance, each of the FRs also received last February 12 immediate cash assistance amounting to P20,000 each. In addition additional remunerations were extended based on surrendered firearms, explosives and ammunitions, an M16 or M14 rifle for instance cost P50,000.
Prior to the awarding of livelihood certificates, said KRs underwent orientation on the SIP and spiritual healing through Bible Study conducted by pastors of the Bicol Ministerial Fellowship Committee composed of Evangelical, Baptist, Pentecostal and Independent Christ-centered and scripture-based churches in the region led by Pastor Eduardo Pilapil, Sr., a former Camarines Sur representative.
Government agencies, too, have extended assistance to KRs. DA is set to distribute a pig for each beneficiary, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) has enrolled KRs and their family members to the PGMA Scholarship Program, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has allotted scholarships for KRs and their family members while Department of Education (DepEd) has organized literary classes and awaits those who want to be the Accreditation and Equivalency Test. Other agencies have pledged support, too.
The SIP is a process wherein former rebels and their family members are provided intervention assistance to facilitate their integration into the society. The program is guided by the principle of convergence and cooperation among concerned peace partners such as national government agencies, local government units, non-government organization and related organizations in the community.
Through SIP, OPAPP believes that its pursuit of genuine and lasting peace can be achieved through the promotion of peace and unity among all stakeholders towards peace and development. (PIA V) [top]