TACLOBAN CITY – Former fighters of the New People’s Army (NPA) and soldiers in Samar and Leyte provinces have completed a 27-day landscape training by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
At least 15 former rebels and 10 soldiers of the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division earned certificates on landscape installation and maintenance.
The graduation was held at the Villaconzoilo Farm School in Villaconzoilo village, Jaro, Leyte on Thursday.
Soldiers and former rebels attending the same is a show of unity and peaceful endeavor, according to the Philippine Army.
TESDA Eastern Visayas director Gamaliel Vicente, Jr. congratulated the graduates and hoped that more rebels will gain new skills and find jobs, making them productive.
“TESDA is in full support to former rebels in providing livelihood training opportunities in pursuit of peace,” Vicente said during the graduation rites.
Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla said the provincial government has been offering livelihood training to bring the government closer to the people and encourage rebels that some programs and services await them if only they return to the folds of the law.
“Skills trainings serve as a venue for more rebels to address poverty in their families and communities, which is one of the socio-economic issues being used by the NPA to lure and recruit individuals in the region,” Petilla said in his message
Jade, a former rebel thanked the government for this project intervention. He was not only given the chance to live peacefully with his family, but to acquire new skills as well.
“I’m very happy for this scholarship from TESDA through the task force – ELCAC (end local communist armed conflict). I never had a chance to graduate since I just finished Grade 1, but I am now a certified landscaper,” said Jade, who ranked third in the class and received awards as best in indoor gardening and best in dish gardening.
The skills training for former rebels is one of the priority anti-insurgency projects of task force ELCAC, formed to institutionalize a “whole-of-nation approach” in attaining an inclusive and sustainable peace.
The NPA, which has been waging a five-decade armed struggle against the government, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)