(Photo from NTF-ELCAC) 

MANILA – The Zamboanga Del Sur provincial government on Wednesday said it is committed to sustain development programs of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) particularly its "Project Good Life".

“As the governor, of course, it is my job to assess the project when it was first presented to me. But seeing how concrete and sound their plan is, and also considering the urgency of the need to address insurgency, I immediately gave my full confidence and support to ‘Project Good Life,’” Governor Victor Yu said following a courtesy call of NTF-ELCAC director for stakeholders engagement Stephen Cabanlet last Dec. 6.

In a statement, the NTF-ELCAC said "Project Good Life" is an initiative of Zamboanga Del Sur’s Provincial Task Force-ELCAC (PTF-ELCAC). It facilitates the reintegration of "Friends Rescued" (FRs) or former rebels into the society.

The project molds former rebels into productive citizens who are active members of the community.

Attaining inclusive and sustainable peace and development across the country is among the priority goals of the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. It is also the mandate of the national task force.

The end goal of the project is to establish the community’s total acceptance of FRs, absence any form of discrimination and the monitoring of their recovery and utilization of opportunities to lead a peaceful and secure life.

“What’s great about Project Good Life is how it addresses aspects of ‘pagbabalik-loob’ -- reintegration of FRs to the society as productive citizens and their healing from the wounds they suffered physically, emotionally, and spiritually,” Cabanlet said.

The project provides a transient facility, a fully functional halfway house for the FRs, where they can stay until fully prepared to live in the communities.

While in the halfway house, they are given access to training provided by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to equip them with useful skills, in preparation for employment.

TESDA trainer Artemio Tunacao said once training of these FRs are completed, they are eligible to receive the National Certificate 2, which certifies their skill levels and is widely recognized by companies.

This document also allows them to find jobs easier. The FRs are also receiving psychological therapy which helps in their healing.

One of the proponents of "Project Good Life", Dr. Moibe Olitres Ph.D., conducts psychological assessments necessary to completely prepare the FRs to socialize with others. Zamboanga del Sur’s Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office and the Office of the Governor facilitate the processing of the FRs’ application for Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) for them to avail the benefits of the service while in the halfway house.

Social workers also constantly volunteer to help "Project Good Life".

While the provinces of the Zamboanga Peninsula have been declared insurgency-free, Yu said there will be no letup in Zamboanga del Sur’s efforts to maintain peace and development in the area.

“This is not a reason for us to relax, insurgency is just around the corner. We are doing this to provide a better future for Zamboanga del Sur,” he said. (PNA)