Forty former rebels (FRs) who surrendered to the 66th Infantry Battalion were handed livelihood starter kits by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Compostela Valley on Wednesday, Nov. 28.
1Lt. Leo Daren Gapay, the civil-military operations officer of 66th IB, said they facilitated the turnover of the kits ina simple ceremony at their headquarters.
The ceremony was attended by Lt. Col. Palmer Parungao, the commander of 66th IB; Patrick Kim Evangelio, the acting division chief of the DTI-ComVal; and Faustino E. Diabordo, project coordinator of DTI-ComVal.
Gapay said the project was in line with the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-Clip) of the government to capacitate and support the former rebels in going back to mainstream society and become productive citizens
“Each individual FR was given a P20,000 worth of assistance and among the identified livelihood projects proposed by the individual FR are a sari-sari store, livestock-raising, blacksmithing and hollow block-making,” he added.
Evangelio in his opening remark said, “This starter kit of livelihood seeding program is like a book. You have to read the book in order to understand its content and apply it in your life. When you receive this starter kit, you have to make an effort for you to be able to sustain it and make it grow,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gapay said alias Maya, a former member of Guerrilla front 27, also delivered a testimony.
She thanked the army and the government for giving them another lease on life.
Parungao said the military will help monitor the progress of the former rebels and help sustain their projects.
“We made it possible for former rebels and the soldiers to live together in harmony, building respect and nurturing appreciation from each other’s effort for the community to achieve peace and self-sustainment,” he added.
He also encouraged the remaining members of the NPA to lay down their arms and surrender. “The government has programs for you to start again and live a peaceful and happy life,” the battalion commander said.