Former Rebels Receive P65k Livelihood Assistance

Capt. Mark Anthony Villacorte, who represented 701st Brigade Commander Brigadier General Reuben Basiao; Technical Consultant Evelyn Vallar, and PSWDO Assistant Department Head Daniel Con-el spearhead the distribution of checks to former rebels.

DAVAO ORIENTAL – Twenty-eight former rebels have received livelihood assistance checks worth P65,000 each under the government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP).

The Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office along with partners from the Philippine Army’s 701st Brigade and the Happy Home spearheaded the distribution of checks during the turn-over ceremony on Thursday, December 7, held at the Provincial Government-run facility for former rebels called Happy Home.

Held in time for the former rebels’ graduation on their five-day Integrated Seminar on Values Formation, Family and Spiritual Enrichment Services, Psychosocial Care Intervention and Financial Literacy, former rebels say they are “overwhelmed with the care, services, and attention they have received from the government”.

Twenty-year-old Jericho (not his real name), one of the former rebels who received their checks, said he is thankful to have made “the right choice” of surrendering to the government. “Before I felt like I was groping in the dark with no direction, now I can see a bright future ahead of me,” he said, noting that he intends to open a sari-sari store and will open a savings account with the money he has received.

The distribution of checks was held in time for the former rebels’ graduation on their five-day Integrated Seminar on Values Formation, Family and Spiritual Enrichment Services, Psychosocial Care Intervention and Financial Literacy n Thursday, December 7, held at the Provincial Government-run facility for former rebels called Happy Home.

“The military and the Happy Home staff treated us very well. They took care of us, fed us and looked after our needs. They also offered us so many services which I never expected I could ever get. I can’t believe I am receiving all these blessings. It truly exceeded my expectations,” said another former rebel.

These former rebels, who are the last batch of beneficiaries under the CLIP, surrendered to the government sometime in June to August of this year and have since been housed at the Happy Home receiving comprehensive services from the government. For the whole year of 2017, a total of 55 former rebels have already been enrolled in the CLIP.

At the Happy Home, former rebels received holistic government services that include medical and psychiatric services, counseling, education, sports development, spiritual enlightenment program, and livelihood and skills training, among many others.

Personnel from the Commission of Human Rights presented gifts to the 28 former rebels at the Happy Home.

Prior to their two-month stay at the Happy Home, they are first admitted at the 701st Brigade’s Ugnayan Center where they undergo a 10-day deradicalization course. Located only a stone’s throw away from the Happy Home, the Ugnayan Center is the venue wherein former rebels are reintroduced to the Philippine Constitution and to spirituality, among others, which have all been stripped off from them while inside the communist insurgent movement.

In addition, former rebels also learn gardening and farming techniques within the Happy Home’s spacious compound. Farming and gardening, says the Happy Home staff, not only prepares them economically and empower them as they get back to the community but also teaches former rebels the value of discipline and care.

Happy Home Center Manager Emalyn Oliveros said she hopes that the series of training, especially on livelihood, coupled with the cash assistance will give former rebels more inspiration in pursuing their dreams.  “Many of the former rebels here are in their twenties. They are still young and have their whole future ahead of them. I hope this would help them start over with their lives,” she said.

Capt. Mark Anthony Villacorte, who represented 701st Brigade Commander Brigadier General Reuben Basiao, urged the former rebels to make the most of the government’s assistance. He reminded them that while the government has already done its part in helping them back on their feet, it is still up to them whether they succeed or not. “Your future is all in your hands now,” he said.

PSWDO Assistant Department Head Daniel Con-el congratulated the former rebels and wished them luck on their new journey back in the mainstream society. He also reminded the former rebels to be prudent in spending their livelihood assistance.

After the former rebels complete their rehabilitation at the Happy Home in a span of two months, they will begin to reintegrate to the community. A monitoring team will keep tabs on them to ensure that they have adapted well in the civilian life, especially in terms of social and economic reintegration. 

Davao Oriental’s implementation of the CLIP and the operation of the Happy Home are being touted as the country’s model program in aiding former rebels in their transition towards a civilian life and regularly have been benchmarked by different provinces around the country.

In the recent quarter alone, the CLIP committees of the provinces of Davao Occidental, Agusan del Sur, Compostela Valley, and Northern Samar have conducted learning visitation at Davao Oriental’s Happy Home. By Karen Lou Deloso/Photo by Joel Owano

 

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