By Lou Ellen L. Antonio
BUTIG, Lanao del Sur, Aug. 13 – Seventy-six former members of the ISIS-linked Dawla Islamiya Local Terrorist Group (LTG) here will start a new beginning after receiving livelihood starter kits from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
The distribution is part of DTI’s support to promote social healing and peacebuilding including the reintegration of rebel returnees to the community.
Sixty-one sari-sari store starter kits and 15 school supply starter kits were awarded to the former rebels (FRs).
Dimnatang Radia, DTI-Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) consultant, encouraged the rebel returnees to form a cooperative so that the assistance from the government will continue. He also called for their cooperation to achieve peace and progress.
“Magtulungan tayo. Tulungan natin ang programa ng ating pamahalaan sa usaping pangkapayapaan at kaunlaran. Inshallah, tuluy-tuloy ang inyong negosyo at magandang kabuhayan,” said Radia.
[We should work hand-in-hand. Let us help the program of our government to pursue peace and development. God willing, your business will prosper and continue.]
Commitment for coordination with concerned agencies
TFBM Field Office Manager Assistant Secretary Felix Castro Jr. shared that there are rules and regulations that the government follows such as procurement processes which can affect the delivery of services for them.
“May mga pangako ang gobyerno pero hindi lahat nasusunod agad kasi hindi ganon kabilis ang sistema sa gobyerno dahil may rules and regulations,” Castro said.
[The government has promises that are not provided immediately because the system is not that fast due to rules and regulations.]
However, Castro emphasized that the government does not forget the promises to the FRs.
“Hindi nakakalimot ang gobyerno. Iyong pinangako niya as much as possible ay tutuparin iyan. Kaya kami nandito dahil isa sa pangako ng gobyerno na kayo ay tulungan,” he added.
[The government does not forget. It will fulfill its promises as much as possible. This is why we are here because it is one of the government’s promises to help you.]
He also reiterated the commitment of TFBM in coordinating with concerned agencies which promised to give them livelihood and other assistance after they have returned to the folds of the law.
He also said that it is not the TFBM that will provide assistance to them, the TFBM’s role is to follow-up and coordinate with the agencies as to how they will be supported.
An open forum was also held wherein the FRs were able to voice out their sentiments and concerns.
Wahab (not his real name), one of the returnees, thanked the local government for, DTI, TFBM, and other key agencies for the assistance given to them.
“I’m very happy and thankful to this program especially to the local government, DTI, TFBM, and some agencies. We are very thankful because of their help. At saka nasagot yung mga katanungan namin. Ngayon ko naramdaman na maganda ang pagsagot sa akin [Because our questions were answered. I felt how good my questions were answered,” he said.
Meanwhile, Saga Pagariongan, DTI-TFBM consultant said that he will relay to the DTI Central Office the sentiments of the FRs which is to have a sustainable livelihood program.
Call for unity and perseverance
Butig Mayor Dimnatang Pansar has called for unity in achieving peace.
“Pagtulung-tulungan na makamit natin ang kapayapaan hindi lang sa Butig kundi sa buong Bangsamoro para maisulong ang pagbabago at kaunlaran ng ating region at bansa,” said Pansar.
[We should work hand-in-hand so that we will achieve peace not only here in Butig but in the whole Bangsamoro region to promote change and development in the region and our country.]
Meanwhile, LTC. Romulus B. Rabara, battalion commander of the 5th Infantry Battalion, encouraged the FRs to utilize the assistance provided to them properly.
“Pahalagahan ang effort ng gobyerno para magkaroon ng kabuhayan at kapayaapan. Huwag hayaan na mabalewa ito at mapabayaan ang kabuhayan at bumalik sa pakikidigma,” said Rabara.
[Appreciate the government’s effort for you to have a livelihood and peace. Do not let it be neglected that will force you to return to war.]
Rabara also urged them to be serious about having a new life.
“Sa mga former rebels, seryosohin ang pagbabahong buhay. Habang tinutulungan kayo tulungan niyo din sarili ninyo,” he added.
“To the former rebels, take seriously your new lives. While help is given to you, help yourself also,” he added.
Asec. Pendatun Disimban of Cooperative Development Authority has also called on the perseverance of the FRs in using the assistance given to them.
To recall, the rebel returnees were profiled by the 103rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army through its unit battalions.
The 55th Engineering Brigade also provided hauling assistance for the said starter kits.
DTI also targets to distribute the same assistance to FRs in Piagapo. (LELA/PIA ICIC)