SAN JOSE DE BUENAVISTA, Antique – Nineteen former rebels (FRs) in two provinces of Panay received Livelihood Settlement Grant (LSG) on Thursday under the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Marielle F. Escal, the program’s focal person, in her message during the turnover ceremony held at the Sebaste Central School, said the FRs from the towns of Culasi and Sebaste are the first to receive the PHP20,000 grant each.
“The LSG is intended for the beneficiaries of Executive Order Number 70,” she said.
EO 70 created the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) that institutionalized a whole-of-nation approach in obtaining exclusive and sustainable peace.
Escal said the identified FRs submitted their project proposals last December and were approved by DSWD Western Visayas regional director Evelyn Macapobre.
The recipients were composed of 10 FRs from Sebaste, seven from Culasi, one from Pandan, and one from Jamindan, Capiz.
“The FR from Capiz was included in the distribution in Antique because she surrendered in the province, “she said.
“Ka Riza”, the FR from Capiz, is the only female who received the LSG.
Of the 19 FRs, 10 received the LSG for cattle-raising, three for buy-and-sell of palay, two for hog-raising, and one each for carabao-raising, goat-raising, putting up of sari-sari store, and fishing.
Meanwhile, Prosecutor Flosemer Chris Gonzales, chief of the Legal Cooperation Cluster and spokesperson of the Regional Task Force – ELCAC, said the government is realizing its promise to assist the FRs as they start their new lives through the distribution of the LSG.
Hopefully, he said the FRs through the assistance being given them, would realize that there was no more reason to return to their former lives as rebels.
James Rubino, information officer of the Antique Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, said a total of 32 FRs from Antique have surrendered to the government.
“The LSG of the other FRs are still being processed by the DSWD,” he said.
“Ka Riza”, in her message, thanked the government for the assistance given them.
She joined the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) movement at 14 years old to lift her family out of poverty.
“I was with the movement for 19 years but I realized that my life even got worse because I always felt tensed,” she said, as she was assigned to work as a political and medical officer.
“It was there that I also met my husband,” she said. They have two children, who were left with her in-laws in Sebaste while they were in the movement.
“It was last October 2017 that my husband and I decided to leave the movement because we asked to visit our children whom we were not able to see for four years already,” she said.
She said that it was only on August 5, 2020 when they finally decided to surrender to the government.
“My husband and I are now separated but I am happy that I could already see my children anytime,” she added.
She will start goat-raising in Capiz where she now resides.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terror group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)