CEBU CITY – A total of 24 former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels from seven towns in Bohol are now busy with their new businesses through the P240,000-worth Negosyo Kits given by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), an Army officer said on Monday.
1st Lt. Elma Grace Remonde, civil-military operations officer of the 47th Infantry (Katapatan) Battalion, said the former rebels (FR) received their livelihood assistance worth PHP10,000 each to finance their new businesses such as “sari-sari” store, rice retailing or hog raising.
Remonde told the Philippine News Agency that the former NPA members who received Negosyo Kits surrendered to the authorities in the past few months.
“The Negosyo Kit distribution was part of the strengthened programs of the National Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). The DTI-Bohol assisted the FRs as part of their program under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP,” she said.
The Philippine Army, Bohol provincial government, and the local government units of the towns of Antequera, Calape, Loon, Catigbian, Sevilla, Guindulman, and Mabini partnered with Alturas Group of Companies in rolling out the program, Remonde said.
The 24 beneficiaries will be monitored by the DTI-Bohol, she said, adding that the agency will give them more assistance if their business will become successful and they need more help for expansion.
In a statement, DTI-Bohol provincial director Marisol Balistoy said her office will also give livelihood seminars to former members of the NPA and hear queries on concerns about their businesses.
One of the beneficiaries, “Ka Amad”, thanked the NTF-ELCAC for the program that changed their lives now that they are leading normal lives as law-abiding citizens.
Ka Amad recalled being a combat team leader of the NPA in Mindanao when he was promised to be rewarded with a farmland due to his steadfast adherence to the communist teachings but received nothing which forced him and his wife to go back to Bohol.
“I was once a party member and a team leader. My wife was a mass supporter who attends plenum and other activities inside the left organization. We, as couple, were actively supporting since 2001 until we decided to leave the party,” Ka Amad said.
He narrated that their lives in the mountain were “burdensome and we struggled a lot when they always left us in the hinterlands with not enough foods.”
The former rebel also said he is “grateful that the government embraced my return warmly that until now I am receiving lots of assistance that could help our livelihood.”
Ka Amad received PHP10,000 worth of goods for him to start a sari-sari store.
Although the distribution was concluded last May 29, Remonde said the DTI-Bohol will distribute more Negosyo Kits to other beneficiaries. (PNA)