MANILA -- The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) is conducting a massive skills training program for displaced Filipinos affected by the ongoing rebellion in Marawi City.

During a press briefing in Malacañan on Tuesday, October 3, TESDA Director General Guiling Mamondiong said the agency went to Iligan City, where many of the evacuees are currently residing.

According to Mamondiong, TESDA is presently conducting a massive skills training program to the evacuees in Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro City.

He said the agency has appropriated around PHP60 million for the skills training program in Cagayan de Oro City. The TESDA head said they are targeting to train around 20,000 construction workers for the reconstruction and rehabilitation program of the government in areas affected by the siege.

In a bid to ensure that evacuees will be employed and will have livelihood after the training, TESDA is coordinating “very closely” with Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and Department of Agriculture (DA).

“We have to provide jobs and means of livelihood to the evacuees once they already returned to Marawi City,” he said.

For drug dependents, Mamondiong said TESDA has already trained about 20,000 in support of the drug rehabilitation program of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. In addition, the agency is coordinating with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to submit a list of drug dependents who are ready for skills training.

He said TESDA is also coordinating with the DTI and DSWD to make sure that after the training program, jobs will be available as well as livelihood for those who cannot find employment in the private sector.

“We are actually talking to the industry to accept these drug dependents… after their skills training,” Mamondiong said.

“We can do that but we cannot force the industry to accept them. Kasi sila ang nakakaalam kung sino-sino ‘yung dapat nilang tanggapin. But we will be talking to them, we will encourage them to accept them if they have the skill and we are providing the skill that the industry would need,” he added.

TESDA has also trained about 8,500 indigenous people from various tribes in the country, Mamondiong said. The agency has signed a memorandum of agreement with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) for 15,000 scholarship grants for the indigenous people.

It has also signed a memorandum of agreement with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for the development of family enterprises in all regions of the country.

The training, which targets 2,000 family enterprises for the first half of 2018, is for all the members of the family who are of age.“So this is another approach to poverty alleviation program among Filipino families,” Mamondiong said.

Also as part of its contribution to the poverty-alleviation program of the administration, the agency plans to visit slum areas in the country in November for the development of skills training for informal settlers.

“We will be bringing TESDA and these government offices to these slum areas. Kami na po ang pupunta doon. Aalamin (natin) kung ano ang maitutulong ng TESDA at saka mga opisinang ito,” Mamondiong said. “Aalamin namin sa kanila. Ano ba ang mga skills na pwede nating i-develop sa inyo? Pwedeng ibigay sa inyo? Ano ba ang trabahong pwedeng ibigay sa inyo? Ano ang mga livelihood program pwedeng ibigay sa inyo na kaya ninyong gawin? ‘Yun po ang contribution ng TESDA rito,” he added.

Mamondiong said TESDA is expected to receive PHP4.5 billion for the universal access to college education program where the agency will tap its 122 training centers in the country. “So in 2018, we are talking here of about 700 to 800 trainees or scholars. Napakarami po ito. At ito po ay pinaghandaan ng TESDA. We are renovating, we are making repairs of these training institutions so that by the time that we have this money in 2018, we are ready to implement them successfully,” he said. (PND)