IMPASUGONG, Bukidnon, May 10—As the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues, former rebels who surrendered to the 8th Infantry (Dependable) Battalion started working on the government’s food sufficiency project under urban agricultural program dubbed as “Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat Kontra COVID-19 Program (ALPAS sa COVID-19).
‘ALPAS sa COVID-19,’ which is also known as ‘Plant, Plant, Plant Program’ is a whole-of-nation approach of the Department of Agriculture advocated by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to increase the country’s food adequacy level during emergency situations resulting from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Lt. Colonel Edgardo V. Talaroc Jr, commanding officer of 8th Infantry Battalion, said the program intends to promote and sustain food production in urban areas amidst the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“In collaboration with the Department of Agriculture-Northern Mindanao Integrated Agricultural Research Center (DA-NOMIARC), the former rebels plant several vegetable seedlings in the land area covered by the ‘Arm to Farm Program’ of the 8th Infantry Battalion,” he said.
Alias “Jerry,” one of the former rebels shared how the government has helped them surrender with dignity and enthusiasm because aside from the E-CLIP (Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program), “Jerry” said this ‘ALPAS sa COVID-19’ or ‘Plant, Plant, Plant Program’ could inspire them as farming reconnects them with the land—and this is what their culture feeds them.
"Dako ang akong pasalamat sa gobyerno kay gawas sa umaabot nga tabang sa programa nga E-CLIP, naa pa gyod ing-ani nga programa sa pagpananom ang atong gobyerno. Makahatag kini ug inspirasyon tungod kay mao kini ang among naandan ug mao kini ang gitudlo sa amo. Makahatag pa gyod ug dugang nga income para sa umaabot nga panahon nga makatabang pud sa among mga panginahanglanon. (I am grateful that the government has this kind of program. Aside from the E-CLIP, this gardening program could inspire us because farming reconnects us with the land. This will give us extra income in the future that will help us meet our daily needs),” the former rebel said.
Alias “Jerry” said the vegetable seeds that the government gave them are very quick to grow and ready to be harvested in just two to three months after sowing.
Aside from their contribution to the food production—the main intent of ALPAS sa COVID-19—it also serves as their source of income, he added.
LtCol. Talaroc, meanwhile, lauded the former rebels’ zeal in engaging such enterprise.
“I commend the initiative and dedication of our former rebels. This unit will continue to provide interventions to our former rebels while they are waiting for their E-CLIP benefits,” he said. (CMBumatay, CMO, 8IB PA/RLRB, PIA Bukidnon)