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Housing project for former rebels to rise in Eastern Samar

BORONGAN CITY (PIA) -- The local government of Can-avid in Eastern Samar recently broke ground for a housing project aimed at assisting former rebels, also known as ‘friends rescued,’ to rebuild their lives as they reintegrate themselves to mainstream society.

The housing project, dubbed ‘Saad nga Balay’ or Bahay na Pangako, is a collaborative effort between provincial and national government agencies to provide decent homes, address insurgency threats, and encourage the remaining active rebels to return to the fold of the law. 

Can-avid Mayor Vilma Germino spearheaded the groundbreaking ceremony for the Saad nga Balay housing project for former rebels. (Photo courtesy of Mayor Vilma Germino FB page)

Vice Gov. Maricar Sison-Goteesan, representing Gov. Ben Evardone, acknowledged the support of various stakeholders in making the project feasible, particularly the LGU's initiative to spearhead the project. 

“My heart is indeed full seeing each one of you here pledging your commitment to the success of this program,” Goteesan said, emphasizing that the ‘Saad nga Balay’ project would benefit not only the individual peacebuilders but all of their families as envisioned under the transformation program.

Some beneficiaries, including the army officials and Imelda Bonifacio of OPAPRU (standing first from left), attended the groundbreaking ceremony. (Photo courtesy of 801st IB PA)

Jenilyn Guarino, a project beneficiary, expressed her gratitude to the government and uniformed personnel for their support on behalf of USWAG Sinirangan Visayas and Eastern Visayas Peacebuilders and Development Federation. 

“Damu nga salamat ha iyo kinasingkasing nga pag-ugop ha amon nga mga nagbabalik-loob, ini nga saad nga balay usa pa la ini nga parte nga ginpapakita han gobyerno, nga diri la nga simple nga bulig kundi pagpapaabat hin pagpapahalaga ha amon nga nagbabalik-loob,” Guarino said.

(Translation: Thank you so much for your heartfelt support for us former rebels. This project is not just simple assistance, but it shows that the government cares for us.)

Guarino also pledged her commitment to assist those who were deceived by the wrong ideologies of the NPA terrorists and encouraged her former comrades to return to the path of peace.

Meanwhile, Imelda C. Bonifacio from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU) assured the former rebels that the government will continue to provide support to them and their families through various programs, such as livelihood and training.

Ang misyon namin ay siguraduhin na lahat ng nagbabalik-loob ay kasama namin sa programa at makita namin na maayos ang buhay niyo at nakaitlik kayo sa communities niyo as ordinary citizens na productive,” Bonifacio added.

(Translation: Our mission is to ensure that former rebels are included in our programs and live a better life as productive citizens as they return to the community.)

House Plan of the Saad nga Balay project. (Photo courtesy of 801st IB PA)

Consequently, the beneficiaries will receive carpentry and masonry skills training from TESDA to equip them as the main workforce for constructing their homes.

They will also be enrolled in the TUPAD program of the DOLE, which will provide them with income during the construction phase.

To ensure sustainability, the project includes a site development plan for livelihood packages, tapping both public and private sectors to provide livelihood support and other capacity-building interventions for peacebuilders.

During the ceremony, Brig. Gen. Lenart Lelina, commander of the 801st Brigade, called upon the remaining members of the CTGs to return to the fold of the law and take advantage of the reintegration benefits offered by the government. 

He assured them that the government is committed to achieving peace and resilience through dialogue and support.

Meanwhile, Can-avid Mayor Vilma Germino expressed her gratitude for the support and collaboration of NGA and NGO partners in making the ‘Saad nga Balay’ project a reality.

She acknowledged the contributions of various stakeholders, particularly 801 Brigade leadership, in making the project feasible. She also highlighted the project's potential to benefit not only the individual peacebuilders but also their families.

The groundbreaking ceremony marked the official start of construction, symbolizing the beneficiaries' pursuit of a decent home free from conflict and fear.

Also present during the ceremony were 4Ps Chief Political Affairs Marian Libanan, representing Hon. Marcelino Libanan of 4Ps Party-list; Cora Basada, representing Hon. Ma. Fe Abunda of Eastern Samar; Grace Subong, DSWD Regional Director; Rey Gozon, Assistant Regional Director of OCD8; Dr. Antonio S. Waniwan, TESDA Provincial Director; and army officials. (AAC/VTG/PIA Eastern Samar with reports from 801st IB, PA)

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Samuel Candido


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