LIVELIHOOD ASSISTANCE. Mayor Ariel Bitong (second from left) gives livelihood assistance to members of two people's organizations in Maria Aurora town, Aurora province on March 14, 2023. The recipients are the Dianawan Upland Farmers Association and Buloy Upland Farmers Association, which received PHP30,000 and PHP35,000 worth of cash aid, respectively. (Photo courtesy of the Army's 91IB)

BALER, Aurora – Former members and supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Maria Aurora town, this province, have received government livelihood assistance aimed at making them productive members of society.

Lt. Col. Julito Recto Jr., commander of the Philippine Army’s 91st Infantry Battalion (91IB), said on Friday the local government unit of Maria Aurora and the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist turned over last Tuesday to the former communist terrorist group members and supporters, who are now members of the people’s organizations, some PHP65,000 worth of livelihood aid that could help them rebuild their lives as they reintegrate to their communities.

He said the people’s organizations Dianawan Upland Farmers Association and Buloy Upland Farmers Association received PHP30,000 and PHP35,000 worth of livelihood assistance, respectively.

Recto said the assistance is part of the government’s programs which aim to support the people’s organizations by providing them income-generating opportunities that will sustain their daily needs and help them become self-sustaining organizations in their communities.

He expressed hope that more ex-rebels will benefit from the peace-building initiatives of the government in the fulfillment and attainment of a sustainable, just and lasting peace.

Mayor Ariel Bitong, for his part, said the government is exerting its best efforts to help the people by providing livelihood resources to the communities once affected by armed conflict or insurgency.

“Kami sa LGU ay tumutugon, sana ay makatulong ito at maging kapaki-pakinabang (We, in the LGU, is responding. Hopefully, this could help and become beneficial),” Bitong said in an interview.

Meanwhile, the association officials thanked the LGU and the other concerned government agencies for the assistance.

“Sana po ay mas marami pa silang matulungan na iba pang mga tao na mahihirap na katulad namin(Hopefully, they will help more poor people like us),” said Dianawan Upland Farmers Association president Rubelyn Valiete. (PNA)