ILOILO CITY – The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in Western Visayas (Region 6) since last year has been reaching out to over 400 former rebels and supporters in various barangays that have been cleared from the influence of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) through its training programs.
“As soon as they are considered as cleared barangays, we provided training intervention on the part of TESDA for their livelihood,” TESDA 6 director Jerry G. Tizon said in an interview Tuesday, adding while on training, they are being given an allowance.
Tizon said in Antique, 25 scholars from Barangay Bulan-Bulan, San Remigio are enrolled in Skills Training on Steel Fabrication, while in Barangay Cabladan, Sibalom, some 24 scholars have already graduated from the Electrical House Wiring Installation while 28 are enrolled in Abaca Knotting and Skills Training.
Their proposal for the establishment of an agricultural supply store worth PHP300,000 is currently for review and approval.
Meanwhile in Capiz, TESDA has produced 125 graduates; 75 in Organic Agriculture National Competency (NC) II and 50 for Carpentry NC II in Barangays Carataya and Mahunodhunod in the town of Cuartero.
Former rebels from Barangay Putian are also in charge of the maintenance and protection of 50 hectares of bamboo plantations established in the barangay only this year.
This project is still on its off grounding stage, which means there is a construction of initially identified infrastructure while the skills training is ongoing.
A linkage with a financial institution for capitalization is also being undertaken along with the financial literacy and market linkages.
In Iloilo, TESDA has enrolled 100 beneficiaries for certification in Organic Agriculture NC II and Grains Production NC II in Barangay Dorog in the municipality of Leon.
Of the recipients, 25 have graduated and another 25 have passed the NC II assessment in organic agriculture and considered certified.
Around 25 recipients from Barangay Ingore in La Paz district are enrolled in Electrical Installation and Maintenance NC II.
TESDA launched on March 28, 2021 the Heavy Equipment Operator NC II, particularly on a bulldozer, in Barangay Banago in Bacolod City. The recipients are a combination of former rebels and uniformed personnel
Tizon said they decided to start with the training on bulldozer as they intend to open up an access road in Negros Occidental.
“Once the road will be in place it will be easier for other programs from other agencies of the ELCAC (Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict) to penetrate the area,” he said.
He said once it is completed, they will introduce other training programs such as Organic Farming and Fertilizer as well as livelihood and construction-related programs so they can build their own houses.
“That is the directive of secretary (Secretary Isidro S. Lapeña of TESDA) for the whole of nation approach and not just for one training intervention. We want the totality of assistance that they can avail from us. So it’s not just one time but what is important is that their community will be developed and become self-sustaining,” he said.
Tizon said they also have programs that are on their sustaining stage, which means the recipients have completed their training and the assessment, such as the Organic Agriculture Production in Barangay Igtuble, Igbaras in Iloilo.
He said they visited the area and they saw the need to establish a food processing facility.
“It will be adding value to their crops. Instead of bulk products, they will be smaller but will have a higher value. It won’t be difficult to transport and not vulnerable to the possibility that they will get damaged, especially that they are more on vegetable production,” he added.
The regional director said they would like to ensure that they would respond to their needs, which used to be the reasons why they joined the armed movement.
“If they avail of our services and assistance, we would also be happy seeing their development,” Tizon said.
He added that it is their commitment to helping, subject to the regulation of Executive Order Number 70, which was signed by President R. Duterte in December 2018, created National Task Force (NTF) ELCAC that institutionalized a whole-of-nation approach in obtaining exclusive and sustainable peace.
“Once cleared we will go there and we will provide the training that they wanted pursuant to our assessment if that is technical or skills transfer,” he added.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)