SAAD NGA BALAY. Former members of the New People’s Army who have returned to the fold of the law are to own their own houses in Can-avid, Eastern Samar which had a groundbreaking on Feb.2 led by Mayor Vilma Germino. The housing project is seen to be completed by June with 10 former rebels occupying them. (PHOTO COURTESY)

TACLOBAN CITY – Construction of a housing project that will benefit former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) from the town of Can-avid in Eastern Samar province broke ground on Friday (Feb.2) with at least 10 rehabilitated rebels initially identified as the beneficiaries.

The project, constructed at a lot owned by the local government in Barangay 4, is a collaborative effort between the provincial and municipal governments, the Philippine Army, and various national government agencies.

The housing project aims to provide a decent home to 10 former rebels who are from the town and who surrendered earlier.

Each unit is worth P278,642 with a design of half-concrete and half-hardiflex.

As part of the project, beneficiaries will receive training from the Technical, Education, Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) for carpentry and masonry skills, making them the primary workforce for the construction of their homes.

They will also be enrolled in the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantage/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program of the Department of Labor and Development (DOLE) to provide them with income during the construction phase.

The beneficiaries will also receive livelihood assistance and other capacity building interventions.

Mayor Vilma Germino said that the project will not only benefit former rebels but also their families.

The local chief executive also expressed her appreciation for the support provided by their partners in making the project a reality.

Prior to the groundbreaking, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) headed by area management unit- Eastern Visayas chief Imelda Bonifacio conducted consultations with stakeholders and beneficiaries as part of the social preparation for the implementation of the project.

“The focus of the “Saad Na Balay” project goes beyond the physical structures. It aims to promote peace and resiliency within the community. By engaging in dialogue and consultations with project beneficiaries, OPAPRU ensures a conflict-sensitive approach that aligns with its mission,” Bonifacio said.

Meanwhile, 801st Brigade Commander Brigadier General Lelina reiterated the government’s call for the remaining NPA members to return to the fold of the law and take advantage of the reintegration program offered by the government.

Lelina assured them of the government’s commitment to achieving peace and resilience through dialogue and support.

After the groundbreaking of the housing units for former rebels in Can-avid town, the same project is also set to be implemented in its neighboring municipality of Dolores. Ten beneficiaries are also targeted to benefit the shelter project.

The Saad nga Balay project was first implemented in San Jose de Buan town in Samar province through the funding of both the provincial and municipal governments.

Construction of the 17 housing units for former rebels in the municipality is now ongoing and being undertaken by the personnel from the 546th Battalion, personnel from the 87th Infantry Battalion, and partner government agencies. (ROEL T. AMAZONA)