DavOr Shares Best Practices on Program for Former Rebels

DAVAO ORIENTAL – The Provincial Government’s Happy Home for former rebels has been continuously inspiring other local government units to emulate and learn about its successful operation.

Just recently, delegates from the Province of Davao Occidental have visited the province to benchmark Davao Oriental’s Happy Home and its implementation of the Comprehensive Local Integration Program that is now being poised as a model strategy in aiding former rebels in their transition towards civilian life.

Handing over of Certificate of Appreciation to the Governor. (From L to R): DILG Davao Oriental Provincial Director Yvette Sunga, 10ID Commander MGEN Noel Clement, DILG Davao Occidental Provincial Director Debie Torres, Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang, and Board Member Allan Colina.

10th Infantry Division Commander of the Philippine Army Major General Noel Clement, who joined the delegates, is all praises to Davao Oriental’s initiative, which he says has been effectively drawing New People’s Army rebels to surrender to the government over the past years.

Major General Noel Clement remarks about the CLIP implementation in Davao Oriental

“I believe that the program being implemented here right now is the best example of how the CLIP should actually be implemented,” he said. He cited the Happy Home as an outstanding example that has opened hosts of opportunities for former rebels as they are beginning to realize that there are better options other than joining the rebellion.  

Davao Occidental, the newest province created in Davao Region, has expressed its desire to adopt these best practices to address its long-running insurgency problem which is practically being shared by all provinces in the region. Board Member Allan Colina, who represented Davao Occidental Governor Claude Bautista, stressed the need to maintain peace and order in order to push for further development.

Col. Reuben Basiao leads delegates from Davao Occidental and 10ID Commander MGEN Noel Clement to the Ugnayan Center at the 701st Brigade as a first stop of the tour before proceeding to the Happy Home facility.

During their visit, the delegates comprising members of Davao Occidental’s CLIP Committee have learned the step-by-step process of the Happy Home operation and the innovations being introduced by the local government and the military to provide more holistic services to better equip former rebels in their reintegration to the community.

701st Brigade Commander Col. Reuben Basiao shared the salient features of the facility which includes a ten-day political de-radicalization process incorporating meticulously programmed daily subjects and activities. Under this process, the former rebels undergo activities such as gardening, moral recovery, Sunday mass, and lectures on scores of topics such as Philippine history and socioeconomic theories, among others.

Considering that most of the former rebels are farmers, Col. Basiao introduced new innovations inside the facility which centers on agriculture and farming. Experts from the Provincial Agriculture Office and the military camp provide former rebels hands-on training on crop and livestock production, equipping them with new knowledge they can apply as they go back to their community.

Initiated by the previous administration under Former Governor, now First District Representative Cong. Corazon N. Malanyaon, the Happy Home facility has already served 187 former rebels since it was launched in 2013.

The Happy Home — a processing center and a civilian facility for former rebels who have expressed the desire to return to the fold of the law.

The first and only of its kind in the whole country, the facility has been providing enabling services for total healing, rehabilitation and preparation of former rebels for their complete integration into mainstream society. Services offered here cover the areas of values formation, community integration, capacity building, skills development, and empowerment through education, among many others, explains Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office Head Sarah Gudes, emphasizing collaboration of partner agencies as the hallmark of the Happy Home’s success.

PSWDO Head Sarah Gudes

“These goals and strategies are being met through the provision of various services such as counseling; psychological and psychiatric services; spiritual enrichment services; educational, health and employment services. Aside from that, livelihood assistance and conduct of sports development and therapy sessions and workshops to the residents are also provided. In addition, the facility also offers a site intended for the development of livelihood projects and related skills,” she said.

DILG Provincial Director Yvette T. Sunga

Just recently, the latest batch of former rebels completed the Alternative Learning System (ALS). Other benefits are also being given particularly cash assistance through the CLIP, explains Department of Interior and Local Government Provincial Director Yvette Sunga. This financial assistance intends to help them start anew in their lives as civilians.

The current administration of Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang continues to pour support to the operation of the facility as his commitment to the goal of peace and to end to violent conflict.

“Under my administration, we will continue to provide the former rebels the wherewithal to join the mainstream with livelihood and employment, scholarships for their children, health services, and others. Indeed, this program has truly changed and redefined the face of local governance and development. And I am very happy with the big turnout of insurgents who intend to choose to take the road to peace by pursuing political and social change without the use of arms. We strongly believe that the armed conflict can be resolved by building mutual trust and understanding. Several positive strides have already been made in the name of peace. And we envision the Happy Home to be the beginning of sincere dialogue towards resolving the armed conflict without resorting to the use of arms,” said Dayanghirang. By Karen Lou Deloso/Photo by Eden Jhan Licayan

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