CASH AID. The ceremonial turnover of checks to the recipient peoples' organization held at the provincial capitol in Kidapawan City on Wednesday (Dec. 7, 2022). At least 21 POs from various parts of the province benefited from the PHP6.6 million government assistance via the Department of Social Welfare and Development in the Soccsksargen Region. (Photo courtesy of 39IB)

KIDAPAWAN CITY, North Cotabato – Twenty-two peoples’ organizations (POs) composed of former New People’s Army (NPA) members and supporters received some PHP6.6 million financial assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development-Soccsksargen (DWSD-12) on Wednesday.

DSWD-12 chief Loreto Cabaya said the fund was allocated through the E.O 70 of the Whole-of-the-Nation Approach in Ending of Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) signed by former President Rodrigo R. Duterte to help ex-communist rebels and conflict-affected communities attain peace and development.

“Our salute and gratitude to President Ferdinand R. Marcos for allowing this program to continue, thus we assure you that our agency will enjoin all efforts to achieve the intent of ELCAC,” Cabaya said.

Each PO received PHP300,000 worth of checks as start-up capital through their respective group leaders with nine coming from President Roxas town;Makilala, five; and four each from the municipalities of Tulunan and Antipas.
They were organized through the Community Support Program by the Army’s 72nd Infantry Battalion (IB) and 39th IB led by Lt. Colonels Jose Regonay and Ezzra Balagtey, respectively.

“The sustainable livelihood program (SLP) is part of the holistic approach of ending the conflict in different communities, and we are thankful that the program is serving as a starter for socio-economic intervention in our communities formerly affected with conflict,” Balagtey said.

Melinda Siega, the SLP-Makilala Association president, expressed thanked the program, as she pledged to efficiently manage the given opportunity.

“In the past, if we saw soldiers, we quickly asked ourselves where is the ongoing operation? But now, we commonly ask what programs they bring to be introduced,” she said.

The SLP is a community-based development program geared toward improving the socio-economic status of the POs and their respective communities. (PNA)