SHELTER FOR REBEL RETURNEES. Top officials led by Tacloban City Mayor and chairman of the Regional Peace and Order Council, Alfred S. Romualdez and Samar Vice Gov. Arnold Tan led in the groundbreaking on August 18 of a housing project in San Jose de Buan intended for rebel members who surrendered to the government.

TACLOBAN CITY – Former rebels who have returned to the fold of the law could now be assured of their new and permanent homes.

On Thursday (August 18), the construction of the ‘Saad nga Balay ha mga Peacebuilders han San Jose de Buan” in San Jose de Buan, Samar took place with officials of different government agencies vowing to provide the beneficiaries with needed assistance.
The groundbreaking was led by Mayor Joaquin Elizalde and Vice Governor Arnold Tan, representing Gov. Sharee Ann Tan.

It was also graced by Regional Peace and Order Council 8 Chairman Alfred Romualdez, 801st Brigade Commander Leinart Lelina, 87th Infantry Battalion Commander Luzelito Betinol, LtCol. Francis Rugayan, Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Reconciliation and Unity Samar area manager Emilda Bonifacio, and Department of Social Welfare and Development Regional Director Grace Subong.

The semi-concrete housing project is funded by the provincial government amounting to P2.5 million and the local government amounting to P1.5 million situated near the town center and will initially benefit 17 former rebels who were prioritized during the selection process.

These priority beneficiaries are former rebels who are residents of San Jose de Buan and have families but are homeless and do not want to return to their former communities.
There are 39 former rebels currently staying now in San Jose de Buan who are being supervised and assisted by the local government.

Prior to the groundbreaking, a memorandum of agreement was also signed by officials from the OPAPRU, DSWD, Office of Civil Defense, Technical Education Skills Development Authority, Bureau of Fire, Philippine National Police, Department of Science and Technology, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Department of Interior and Local Government, Provincial Government of Samar, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 543rd and 546th Engineer Construction Battalion, and Uswag Sinirangan Bisayas.

The DSWD also distributed cash assistance worth P5, 000 each for the 39 former rebels including food packs.

Before the groundbreaking was held, the former rebels were trained by the TESDA on carpentry, masonry, electrical wiring, and plumbing so that they can assist the army engineers, BFP, and PNP, in the construction of their house.

Prior to the groundbreaking ceremony, the Poverty Reduction Livelihood and Employment Cluster (PRLEC) headed by the OPAPRU and the Department of Agriculture distributed 13 hogs to the former rebels in the town who were earlier trained on hog raising at the 801st headquarters in Hinabangan town.

“This will be a big help to us former NPA members who have returned to the fold of the law and as try to live a normal life,” alias Milo, one of the beneficiaries, said.

He expressed his gratitude to the government, particularly the Army officials in Samar for providing them with their new homes.

Milo then urged his former comrades who are still fighting against the government to surrender and avail all benefits given to surrenderees like him.