(PAGASA 24-HOUR PUBLIC WEATHER FORECAST as of Saturday, 22 June 2024) Southwest Monsoon affecting the western sections of Southern Luzon and Visayas. 𝗙𝗒π—₯π—˜π—–π—”π—¦π—§ π—ͺπ—˜π—”π—§π—›π—˜π—₯ π—–π—’π—‘π——π—œπ—§π—œπ—’π—‘: Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur will experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms due to Localized Thunderstorms. Possible flash floods or landslides during severe thunderstorms. 𝗙𝗒π—₯π—˜π—–π—”π—¦π—§ π—ͺπ—œπ—‘π—— 𝗔𝗑𝗗 π—–π—’π—”π—¦π—§π—”π—Ÿ π—ͺπ—”π—§π—˜π—₯ π—–π—’π—‘π——π—œπ—§π—œπ—’π—‘: Light to moderate winds coming from Southeast to South will prevail with slight to moderate seas (0.6 to 2.1 meters).

Thursday, 31 August 2023

‘Friends rescued’ receive over P57M support from gov’t

By Nora C. Lanuza

BUTUAN CITY – Since 2016, the government has been consistent and clear on its marching order to concerned agencies, local government units and other stakeholders to effectively support and provide timely assistance to former rebels, also known as “friends rescued.” This commitment continues to guarantee their reintegration to society until they become empowered and self-reliant.

The province of Agusan del Norte, with strong collaboration with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Army’s 29
th Infantry (Matatag) Battalion, 23rd Infantry (Masigasig) Battalion,  65th Infantry Battalion, local government units, other partner agencies, stakeholders and the community, championed in bringing back 456 friends rescued to the folds of the law, through the implementation of inclusive and tangible programs amounting to over P57 million, comprising of financial assistance, skills training, livelihood and employment, shelter, among others.

Upon surrender and assessment of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO), the qualified friends rescued received assistance from the pooled resources of concerned government agencies mandated to serve as the forefront of the whole-of-nation approach to end local communist armed conflict.

From 2016 to August 2023, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has released a total amount of P42,909,344.61 for the implementation of Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP). Further, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) programs on Crisis Intervention contributed P375,000, while the Livelihood Settlement Grant delivered an assistance worth of P2,581,000.

Meanwhile, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) spearheaded the capacity development of friends rescued through skills training like cookery, electrical installation, basic financial literacy, automotive, agricultural farming, carpentry and masonry.

With the guidance and monitoring of the Philippine Army, some friends rescued took the opportunity to start and engage in businesses, such as sari-sari store, dock/swine/hog and goat production, buy and sell of vegetables, live retailing, rice plantation, falcata plantation, animal and livestock production, motor parts/welding tools, internet cafΓ©, eatery, and rice training.


Empowerment and reintegration to the community

Since 2016, 38 friends rescued are now proud members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU). Another 13 successfully joined the AFP, while nine became indigenous peoples (IP) soldiers.

During the 51st Founding Anniversary of the 29th Infantry (Matatag) Battalion, Philippine Army on August 16, 2023, CAFGU Active Auxiliary (CAA) member, Excyl Mandag, a friend rescued, was recognized for his contribution to peace and order in the province of Agusan del Norte. He was awarded as one of the Battalion’s Best CAA members.

“Malipayon ko nga bisan paman isa lang ko ka CAA Member, ilang nakita ang among nabuhat ug natabang aron mamintinar ang kalinaw sa atong lugar (I am grateful for recognizing our contribution, even if I am just a CAA, they recognized our effort and contributions in maintaining peace in our area),” said Mandag.

Nomads, no more

The Task Force Balik-Loob Program gave a favorable opportune for the friends rescued to own a property which they could call their home as the first batch of 17 friends rescued received their housing units located at Happy Homes Village, Barangay Del Pilar in Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte.

This village was developed to serve and accommodate more than 100 permanent, fully furnished housing units, and each valued at P450,000 from the National Housing Authority (NHA). The structures were personally built by the friends rescued, and they were paid for their hard work, as an income source.

Liza, a mother of seven, is one of the 17 friends rescued who was blessed to receive this gift from the government. Liza could not believe that indeed gone were the days when the deep and dark mountains served to be the home of her family.  

When she and her husband made the choice to surrender in 2020, it turned out to be the best decision they have made for their lives. Her daughters who had previously been held by the terrorist group later on followed and courageously surrendered to the government authorities, making the family complete and in peace.

“Malinawon na ang among pagpuyo ug nakapaskwela pa kami sa among mga anak (We are now living peacefully and we can even send our children to school,” Liza narrated with tears of joy.

Rondy, also a friend rescued and beneficiary of the housing unit, expressed his support to bring peace in the village. 

“Magtinabangay ug magsabot-sabot mi aron malinawon ang maong pagpuyo dri sa among lugar (We will help and understand each other so we can live peacefully in this village),” Rondy assured.

Presidential adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) Secretary Carlito G. Galvez Jr. personally visited the village and assured the families of their inclusion to the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the DSWD.

“The government is true to its promises. Always remember, you also have to work and make use of all the trainings and resources you received from the government to survive the daily needs of your families.  You have to help the government share with the remaining rebels the offer of reconciliation and live in peace,” the secretary spotlighted. 

Steadfast to end the insurgency in the country, the government believes that there is no better campaign and strategy in this fight, than to witness and listen to the transformed lives of the friends rescued. (RLE/NCLM, PIA-Agusan del Norte)