The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) remains committed to provide assistance to former rebels to help them reintegrate back into the society and renew their lives.
This was stressed by DSWD Secretary Rolando Joselito D. Bautista during the inauguration of the Halfway House for Former Rebels (FRs) project of the 53rd Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Philippine Army.
In his message during the inauguration, Bautista, a former commander of the Philippine Army, sought the full-blown implementation of Executive Order No. 70, which was signed by President Duterte in 2018 in a move to put an end to the local communist armed conflict.
He said EO 70 is crucial in ending armed insurgency in the country.
“The DSWD remains committed to contribute to government efforts to encourage former rebels to return to the fold of the law by providing them with various programs and services that enable them to start anew.”
Before his appointment to the DSWD, Bautista served the commander of the 1st Infantry Division, known as Tabak Division, and the overall ground commander of Joint Task Force Marawi.
The inauguration ceremony, held on January 21, was made possible in partnership with the Zamboanga del Sur provincial government and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
The DSWD said the halfway house “will serve as the former rebels’ temporary shelter and as venue for other developmental interventions for the former rebels.” The project is funded through the Task Force Balik Loob of DILG,
“The halfway house is also intended for the FRs’ livelihood programs, education, and skills enhancement as part of their preparation to go back to mainstream society,” 53 IB Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herera said.
The DSWD is a member of National Task Force on Ending Local Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
Under DSWD Memorandum Circular No. 3, series of 2020 or the Revised Guidelines in the Implementation of Executive Order No. 70, series of 2018, former rebels and their families, as well as individuals and families affected by armed-conflict who have been referred to DSWD, shall be provided with interventions that would address their immediate needs.
These interventions include temporary shelter, appropriate assistance under the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS), and the provision of protective services, such as house rental assistance, psychosocial counseling, food packages, and hygiene and sleeping kits.
The DSWD said the former rebels will be assessed to ensure the provision of “most appropriate” programs and services to be extended to them. The programs and services that may be extended to the former rebels are enrolment in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), provision of livelihood assistance under the SLP, and Cash-for-Work (CFW) Program, among others.
“As one of the members of NTF-ELCAC, DSWD guarantees the implementation of social welfare and development programs and services to address various risks and vulnerabilities contributing to insurgency,” it said.