A total of 64 rebel returnees from Marawi City, Butig, Piagapo, Tamparan, Pagayawan, Lumba Caunayan, Lumbatan and Sultan Dumalondong in Lanao del Sur, Opol, Misamis Oriental, and Balulang in Cagayan de Oro City turned up during the turnover of livelihood packages consisting of farming tools, sari-sari store starter kits, vulcanizing equipment and cellphone accessories business starter kit.
DOLE- 10 Regional Director Atty. Joffrey Suyao said that the returnees chose the kind of livelihood package they wanted to receive.
“Ito ay para makatulong hindi lang para sa kanilang pamilya kundi kung ito ay maging successful para sa kanilang komunidad,” said Suyao.
[This livelihood assistance will help not only their families but also their communities when it will be successful.]
The 103rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army had profiled a total of 163 Maute-IS returnees to be given livelihood assistance to enable them to lead normal lives.
According to Brigadier General Romeo Brawner Jr., 103rd Brigade commander, the livelihood package is part of the government’s campaign for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE).
Brawner also shared that most of the returnees joined the extremist group because of financial and economic reasons.
He then advised the returnees to use the livelihood assistance in starting with their living again.
“You should treasure this opportunity given you. This is a new start for all of you,” said Brawner.
Alex (not his real name), one of the returnees, thanked DOLE and the Philippine Army for all the support they had received. With the “Bigasan starter kit,” he would start anew in his home at Butig, Lanao del Sur.
“Malaking halaga ito dahil makakatulong ito sa negosyo namin at sa pang araw araw (This is of great help to us in starting our business and in meeting our daily needs),” he said.
Meanwhile, Cardo (not his real name) urged his former comrades to come down from the mountains and surrender to the government.
“Tinatawag ko kayo na bumaba na para makamit natin ang kapayapaan bilang Pilipino at Bangsamoro,” said Cardo.
[I urge you to come down so that we will achieve peace as a Filipino and as a Bangsamoro.]
Task Force Bangon Marawi Field Office Manager Felix Castro Jr also reminded the returnees to preserve and develop the livelihood support given to them.