FORT RAMON MAGSAYSAY, Nueva Ecija — The Army’s 33rd Mechanized Infantry Company along with the provincial government of Zambales facilitated the awarding of additional livelihood assistance to nine former rebels through the Department of Trade and Industry’s “Pangkabuhayan para sa Pagbangon at Ginhawa” Program (PPGP) in simple ceremonies held at the provincial capitol in Iba, Zambales on Tuesday.
In a statement, 3rd Mechanized Infantry Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Norberto P. Aromin Jr. said each former rebel received 10,000 worth of gift certificates and grocery items as their start-up capital for a small business.
“We hope that this additional assistance will help their livelihood grow and help their family’s future. This livelihood support program for the former rebels is proof of government’s sincerity in helping them live a normal life,” said Lt. Col. Aromin.
Zambales Gov. Hermogenes E. Ebdane Jr. led the awarding of the DTI’S PPGP along with Leonila T. Baluyot, provincial director II and acting regional director, DTI-Region 3.
During the awarding ceremony, Ebdane also offered the FRs some employment opportunities and also enrolment in vocational courses.
“Nagpapasalamat po ako sa tulong ng ating gobyerno dahil ako po ay namumuhay na sa ngayon ng payapa at masaya, kasama ang aking pamilya. Malaki pong tulong ang inyong ibinigay sa amin bilang panimula sa aming negosyo,” one of the FRs said. “Hinihikayat ko ang mga rebeldeng NPA na mag balik loob na sa ating gobyerno upang makamit nila ang mapaya pamumuhay. Tayo ay magtiwala sa ating gobyerno,” he added.
703rd Infantry Brigade Commander Brig. Gen. Andrew D. Costelo said the DTI’s livelihood program is a welcome opportunity for former rebels.
“As we implement the government’s whole-of-nation approach program to end the local communist armed conflict, we make sure that FRs will be able to live peaceful and productive lives,” Costelo said.