TACLOBAN CITY-A housing project where members of the New People’s Army (NPA) based in Samar province who have surrendered to the government is soon to be constructed.

Tagged as a ‘peace village,’ the facility is located in Barangay Catigawan in Pinabacdao town where 144 housing units are targeted to be constructed to provide permanent houses to former rebels who have returned to the folds of the law.

Alma Gabin, a former rebel who was once the education deputy secretary of the Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee of the communist group, said that she hopes that the peace village will soon be realized so the intended beneficiaries could now have a sense of security for themselves.

The peace village in Pinabacdao, which sits on a three-hectare lot donated by the regional office of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), was turned over to the provincial government of Samar in November 2021 with the construction supposed to start right away.

The National Housing Authority, in turn, was tasked to build the houses for the rebel surrenderees. It is not clear as to how much the said agency allocated for the project but it was learned each unit could cost around P180,000 up to P400,000, depending on the design.

“They are already tired of waiting. They said that if not for their security, they could have left to other places to find work,” Gabin said.

She added:” We hope that they will be provided with their own housing units and livelihood as well for them to live a normal life so they could also help transform communities still considered as conflict areas.”

According to Gabin, at least 600 former rebels who could be entitled to a housing unit in the said peace village are temporarily housed in various military camps in Samar province.
Gabin said that they have been making some follow-ups on this but only to be given ‘excuses’ like the facility has no water and power connections yet, lack of access road, and an Army detachment need to be established in the area.

Emy Bonifacio, area coordinator of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP), said that she hopes that the peace village would be completed for the rebel returnees to live.

“The peace and prosperity villages are part of the transformation program of former rebels and their families,” she said, noting the purpose of the program.

Aside from Pinabacdao, similar facilities are also been constructed in San Jose de Buan and Hinabangan, both in Samar province.

The OPAPP provides technical assistance to this kind of project like in the identification of potential beneficiaries and prioritization of projects that are ‘conflict sensitive’ and its implementation is ‘peace promotion.’