DUMAGUETE CITY – A total of 18 families of victims and survivors of the March 4 mass shooting in Pamplona town, Negros Oriental province have received individual livelihood starter kits amounting to PHP30,000 to aid their livelihood.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) field office in Negros Oriental delivered the starter kits worth PHP30,000 each to the beneficiaries on Saturday and Sunday, two weeks after Governor Roel Degamo and eight others were killed and 17 others wounded in the daytime attack at his residence in Pamplona town.
DOLE-Negros Oriental provincial head, Ma. Teresa Tanquiamco, said the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) provided the list of 21 beneficiaries, as validated by the provincial government through the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office.
“The livelihood starter kits under the Bigasan ng Bayan program of DOLE consist of nine sacks of rice and six sacks of corn to jumpstart a small business for the beneficiaries, and we hope that they can roll the money and let this source of income thrive,” Tanquiamco said.
The beneficiaries also each received a weighing scale to complete the package.
Tanquiamco said they will be monitoring progress of the businesses they provided to the beneficiaries, stressing that the aid is not for personal consumption, otherwise, it will defeat the purpose.
Each rice sack of 50 kilos is worth PHP2,100 and a sack of corn was procured at PHP 1,600 each. The beneficiaries are given free hand to mark up the prices.
Three more livelihood starter kits will be delivered soon to beneficiaries in the provinces of Negros Oriental and Siquijor.
Starting a “new life;” justice sought
Still reeling from the massacre that left him unable to walk for now, one survivor, Raymund (not his real name), was in tears when he received the livelihood grant.
“My heartfelt thanks to the national government, President Bongbong Marcos, the DOLE, the Army and the police, and many others who have remembered us in this time of difficulty,” he said in Cebuano.
“What we experienced during the shooting attack has left us traumatized. I cannot sleep at night, as flashes of that incident keep coming back to haunt me. I thank God for a new life, and I can only weep for those who died, including the governor. We want justice,” he said.
Raymund had two surgeries after sustaining juries in the leg and still has to undergo physical therapy so he can walk again.
Another survivor, who asked not to be identified, said it was a harrowing experience for him and his uncle who were there when the attack happened.
“We went there just to follow up on our request for some prizes for a barangay event and we did not expect this to happen to us,” he said in the dialect.
He had surgery and now walks with crutches. His uncle escaped unharmed but still shivers when asked to talk about the incident.
The young wife of another victim, meanwhile, wept while saying she feels apprehensive about what the future will bring after losing her husband.
“I have no source of income, and I have three very young children, the oldest aged eight,” she said. “There is no one else to help me raise my kids”.
She was grateful for the livelihood starter kit but hopes there will be future government aid as selling rice and corn does not guarantee immediate returns and the profit is minimal.
Survivors and families of what is now known as the Pamplona massacre are seeking swift justice as they condemned the attack on mostly civilians just asking for help from the provincial government through the governor. (PNA)