DUMAGUETE CITY – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has handed over PHP16.5 million in livelihood assistance to 1,141 beneficiaries from conflict-vulnerable and conflict-areas in Negros Oriental.
The Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) beneficiaries were identified under the livelihood program PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA); Executive Order (EO) 70, which employs a whole-of-nation approach to end communism and institute peace-building initiatives; and Kapatiran para sa Progresibong Panlipunan, Inc., a group composed of former rebels.
The SLP is a community-based capacity-building program that seeks to improve the socio-economic status and enables participants to manage sustainable micro-enterprises or link them to locally available jobs that would enhance their access to basic social services and improve their standard of living, according to the DSWD.
Under PAMANA, 853 people in 40 conflict areas in Guihulngan City, Pamplona, Sibulan, Sta. Catalina, Siaton, and Zamboanguita were given an aggregate total of PHP12 million.
For Kapatiran, one community of 60 people received PHP1.5 million.
On the other hand, EO 70, initiated during the term of former president Rodrigo Duterte, made possible the turnover of more than PHP3 million to 228 individuals in the municipalities of Ayungon, Bindoy, and Manjuyod.
DSWD Undersecretary Alan Tanjusay, who led the distribution of the assistance at a local hotel here Friday afternoon, reassured the agency’s continued support and assistance.
“Sa ilalim ng inyong gabay, nabigyang daan ang Negros Oriental upang makatatag ng pangkabuhayan sa mga SLP association ng inyong mamamayan (Your guidance has paved the way for Negros Oriental to provide livelihood for the SLP associations),” Tanjusay said in his speech, thanking local officials for their cooperation.
The beneficiary areas were among those identified by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict as former insurgency-affected villages.
“I am so grateful to the government for giving us a chance at starting a new life. We are now enjoying freedom and a peaceful life following our surrender from the communist underground movement and I hope to see more surrenderers in the future because the government has followed through with its promise to help us once we leave the movement,” a former rebel who requested anonymity said in an interview.
Brig. Gen. Leonardo Peña, commander of the 302nd Brigade of the Philippine Army based in Tanjay City, lauded the efforts of the government through the DSWD.
“This is living proof that the government is sincere in saying that it will help the former rebels start a new life once they surrender,” Peña told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview.
He reiterated his call for the remaining NPA members in the province to give up the armed struggle and not be swayed by the propaganda of the underground movement that warned they will be killed if they surrendered. (PNA)