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Former Rebel Group Opens Cooperative Store in Tarlac

Former Rebel Cooperative Store

Tarlac City, 17 November 2022 – Facing a new chapter in their lives, the Malayang Magbubukid ng Asyenda Luisita (MALAYA), a group of former rebels in Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac City inaugurated Wednesday (November 16, 2022) their agricultural cooperative store in Barangay Ungot, Tarlac City.

Providing livelihood opportunities to former rebels such as the agricultural cooperative store provided to the MALAYA is one of the focuses of the government’s whole-of-nation approach to ending local communist armed conflict through the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) 3.

The ribbon cutting and blessing of the MALAYA cooperative store were witnessed by its members and officers, as well as member agencies of the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC).

According to MALAYA Chairwoman Florida ‘Ka Pong’ Sibayan, the agricultural cooperative store is the result of their return to mainstream society.

“Tama lang ang ginawa naming pagbabalik-loob. Heto ang kooperatiba na tulong ng gobyerno sa amin. Heto nandiyan nakasubaybay ang gobyerno.” Said Ka Pong.

Former Rebel Cooperative Store

She also thanked the government for their livelihood, as they now live free of fear and apprehension, starting their lives anew.

“Tuloy-tuloy po sana ang pagtulong ninyo sa mga magsasaka at sa mga maralita para wala na maging dahilan ang mga makakaliwang grupo para makapanlinlang pa. Heto na kami, umaangat na sa tulong ng gobyerno. Salamat sa pagkakaisa natin mga miyembro ng MALAYA.” Ka Pong added.

Meanwhile, RTF-ELCAC member agencies present at the event pledged to continue their support to bring government services closer to the MALAYA.

“The dream of MALAYA for long-term peace is also our dream, and we are here to help make that dream a reality. MALAYA is a proof and testimony that the farmers of Tarlac prefer peace and prosperity not hatred to overthrow the government,” said Director Niño Anthony E. Balagtas, the new Regional Director of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency Region 3.

Hacienda Luisita Incident Peace Rally

During the Inauguration, members of the MALAYA also received certificates of completion from Tarlac Center for Learning and Skills Success Assessment Center (TCLASS) of TESDA Tarlac after undergoing community based livelihood training on basic meat processing on November 14, 2022.

The cooperative store was constructed with the help of the 522nd Engineering and Construction Battalion of the Philippine Army (Central Luzon Builders) started last October 24, 2022. Some of the materials for the construction were also provided by private institutions as their support for the government’s whole-of-nation approach.

The Northern Luzon Command, Armed Forces of the Philippines will continue to supervise the MALAYA to receive more assistance from the government aside from the construction of the cooperative store, the provision of capital, and livelihood trainings.

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