Former Rebels Receive Aid to Start Normal Lives

DISTRIBUTION OF CHECKS: Governor Nelson Dayanghirang turns over livelihood assistance check to a former rebel. Joining the Governor are DILG Provincial Director Yvette T. Sunga, Danny Con-el of the PSWDO, and 701st Brigade Commander of the Philippine Army Col. Reuben Basiao

DAVAO ORIENTAL –Fourteen former rebels who currently reside at Davao Oriental’s Happy Home have received livelihood assistance from the government as part of its program to aid former rebels in their reintegration into the mainstream society.

Funded by the Department of Interior and Local Government through the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP), a total of P910,000 was distributed to the former rebels during a simple distribution ceremony on Tuesday, September 12.

The former rebels received P65,000 each, which was turned over by Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang, DILG Provincial Director Yvette T. Sunga and other top officials of key agencies and offices in the province.

Governor Dayanghirang said this aid shows the government’s determination to assist former rebels as they transition to civilian life.

He reminded the former rebels to be wise in spending the government’s assistance and encouraged them to use the money only for meaningful investments that would help them to earn and propagate their income.

As most of the former rebels are farmers, they say they will invest the assistance they have received on growing crops, raising livestock while others say they would like to engage in a small business like putting up a “sari-sari” store.

Using the skills they have acquired during their rehabilitation at the Provincial Government-run Happy Home facility, these former rebels say they now have the confidence to build new productive lives for themselves and their families.

At the Happy Home– a halfway house for former rebels, they were given hands-on training on crop and livestock production, which is part of the innovation being introduced by the Philippine Army’s 701st Brigade to provide former rebels wider economic opportunities when they get back to the community.

Brigade Commander Col. Reuben Basiao said that aside from these trainings, other salient feature of the facility 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.

Col. Reuben Basiao

Thirty-year-old Elena (not her real name), a former rebel, said she is excited to go back to her family and begin her new life as a civilian. She said surrendering was the best decision she has made as it led her to scores of opportunities, giving her and her young children new hope for the future.

Drawn by leftist propaganda due to her lack of education, she shared her difficult experiences inside the insurgent movement. “Aside from not having enough to eat and being always on the run, the benefits they (the rebels) promised me for my family were never given,” she recalled.

“The moment I surrendered, I was still clueless what’s going to happen to me. When the army took me to the Happy Home I was truly relieved. We were well-fed and they gave us what we needed during our stay. We finished basic education through the Alternative Learning System. They have shown us a great deal of kindness,” she said.  “There’s a world of difference between my experiences as a rebel and now as a civilian,” she added.

Since 2013, when the Happy Home started to operate, the government has already spent P10.1 million for the livelihood assistance to the total 187 former rebels enrolled under the CLIP.

Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang

Governor Dayanghirang, who is strongly sustaining the program initiated by his predecessor Cong. Corazon N. Malanyaon, said he hopes that this government program would entice even more New People’s Army rebels to surrender and embrace a new chance at life.

The turn-over of livelihood assistance was held in time for the visit of delegates from the Province of Agusan del Norte as they benchmarked Davao Oriental’s Happy Home and the Provincial Government’s implementation of the CLIP. By Karen Lou Deloso/Photo by Eden Jhan Licayan


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