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32 Rebel returnees continue to avail livelihood program  

Rebel Returnee MOA Signing

Bontoc, Mountain Province – Former rebels in the province continue to benefit from the Provincial Livelihood Program for Rebel Returnees of the Provincial Government of Mountain Province following the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the renewal of their work contract on January 30, 2016.

The program is dependent on the appropriation of the provincial government. Thus, cognizant of the positive impact of the program, Governor Bonifacio C. Lacwasan, Jr., together with the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan approved its continuation.

Now on its 7th year of implementation since its inception in 2011, the program has under its roll 32 rebel returnees.

During the signing of the (MOA), Provincial Social Welfare Development Officer Rosalinda T. Belagan encouraged the beneficiaries to continue upholding good values.

In his message, Governor Bonifacio C. Lacwasan, Jr. assured the continuous implementation of the program as the provincial government is still opening its door to NPA combatants who are willing to come down from the mountains, lay down their arms, live a normal life in the community and be with their parents and family.

Lacwasan solicited the commitment of the rebel returnees to execute what has been stipulated in the MOA that they entered into with the provincial government. He advised them to perform their functions and follow directives from their respective Punong Barangay who are their immediate supervisors.

The governor also emphasized the value of keeping the family together and importance of education to their children. With this, he encouraged the rebel returnees to send their children to school.

In response, rebel returnees and barangay officials expressed gratitude to the provincial government for the continuous implementation of the program.

Punong Barangay where the beneficiaries reside unanimously attested that the rebel returnees proved their sincerity in starting a new life with their families. Through the program, the rebel returnees help in the cleaning and beautification of the barangay. They also help in clearing the road going to their barangay whenever there is a landslide especially during rainy season, and are always there to help whenever there is a community occasion or gathering.

In the municipality of Sadanga, Bekigan Punong Barangay Alex S. Ottao recognized the effectiveness of the program in helping the rebel returnees to live normal lives in the community. He added that rebel returnees in his barangay perform their functions delegated to them without complaints; Belwang Punong Barangay Vicente M. Tic-chap shared that rebel returnees in his barangay maintain the cleaning of the pathway and irrigation going to the rice field and the pathway going to school; and Saclit Punong Barangay Alex A.  Churping proudly shared that he is pleased with the work output of the rebel returnees in his barangay especially that they are always ready to help during emergency situations.

Betwagan Punong Barangay Benito K. Takchangen of Sadanga, Mainit Punong Barangay Manuel F. Chadya-as of Bontoc and Pudo Punong Barangay Melis L. Chilig of Natonin thanked the provincial government for continuing the program. They also reminded the rebel returnees to abide and follow what has been stipulated in the MOA.

Evelyn Wadwadan of Barangay Belwang and one of the beneficiaries of the program remarked that the program has help uplift the economic status of her family being her source of living.

Under the program, each recipient receives an honorarium of 5,000.00 per month based from the actual working days in exchange of community services rendered as stipulated in the MOA. They would either work as a forest guard, reforestation worker, road maintenance man, community worker and other jobs as maybe agreed upon and under the direct supervision of their Punong Barangay.

However, recipient of the program can be disqualified if he/she has a pending case in any court involving crimes against chastity, rape, torture, kidnapping for ransom and other crimes for personal ends and violation of international law. A recipient will also be terminated when she/he refuse to send his/her children to school, she/he refuses or fails to live within the norms of society and when she/he maintains his relation with the underground movement such as NPA or the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CPDF).

To maintain the sustainability of the program, the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office is conducting a year end assessment and evaluation in the month of December of every year to provide a venue for sharing of accomplishments and discuss issues and concerns in the presence of their Punong Barangay to improve the delivery of services. // Alpine L. Killa, PIO-MP