ILIGAN CITY, July 9 (PIA) - Twenty former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) have completed a skills training program offered by the government's Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
The former rebels (FRs) received their certificates of training in a graduation ceremony Wednesday, July 8, held at the Regional Training Center in Brgy. Ditucalan, this city.
El Cid Castillo, TESDA Lanao del Norte Provincial Director, said two national certificates (NC) were awarded to the FRs - one for Shielded Metal Arc Welding and another for driving.
"The FRs have undergone training on Shielded Metal Arc Welding from January to March, this year, here in RTC. Our original proposal was only for Shielded Metal Arc Welding but since they were housed at the RTC, we added free training on driving," he said.
During the awarding ceremony, the FRs also received livelihood starter kits from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
"They can find jobs with the new skills they acquired and at the same time, their wives and children can go into a business through the livelihood kits," said DTI Region 10 Director Linda Boniao.
She emphasized that the government is always ready to assists FRs in their transition back to mainstream society.
City Director Edward Bhagwani of the Department of Interior and Local Government said the special skills training program is part of the interventions given to FRs as a component of the government's Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
This ensures that rebels who surrender to the government can avail of a holistic package of benefits including firearm remuneration, immediate financial assistance, and livelihood assistance to improve the quality of their lives.
Iligan City Mayor Celso Regencia who graced the graduation ceremony expressed his continued support as the former rebels carry on with their reintegration process in society.
He also urged the graduates to convince their comrades, who are still in the mountains, to return to the folds of the law so that they can also avail of government's programs.
"Sa atong mga FRs, unta inyong gamiton ang inyong nakatun-an sa TESDA aron mabag-o ang inyong kinabuhi kuyog ang inyong asawa og mga anak. Atong kalimtan ang pagbitbit og armas. Nganong mag away man ta nga pareho tang Filipino? Magtinabangay kita aron molambo atong nasud," the mayor said.
(To our FRs, we hope you will use the skills you learn from TESDA to change your life with your spouse and children. Forget carrying firearms. Why should we fight each other when we are all Filipinos? We should work together for our country to prosper.)
The Philippine Army reiterated Mayor Regencia's call on NPA rebels to abandon their armed struggle and avail of the government's E-CLIP to start a better life.
"Ako ay nananawagan sa ating mga kapatid na nalinlang lamang na bumaba na kayo sa bundok, isuko ang inyong armas at mag-avail kayo sa programa ng ating gobyerno na E-CLIP. Ang armadong pakikibaka ay walang magandang patutunguhan," said LtCol. Domingo Dulay Jr., commanding officer of the 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion.
Meanwhile, the 20 FRs expressed gratitude for the government's programs that they say will give them an economic opportunity as they return to mainstream society.
"Dili namo kalimtan ang tabang nilang mayor, DILG, CSWD, og mga trainors namo sa TESDA," said Alyas More.
(We will not forget the help extended by mayor, DILG, CSWD, and our trainors from TESDA.)
He said they are thankful to President Rodrigo Duterte for his sincere commitment to implement programs for rebel returnees. "Kang President Duterte, salamat sa imong programa. Imong gesaad kanamo, nangabot na," he added.
(To President Duterte, thank you for your programs. Your promised to us has arrived.)
The 40-year old returnee also urged his former comrades to go down and return to the folds of the law emphasizing that they have no future in the mountains and that the government has programs that could help improve their lives. (APB/PIA ICIC)