‘Saad na Balay’

HOUSE OWNERS.Ten rehabilitated members of the New People’s Army received their titles as new house owners under the ‘Saad nga Balay’ program of the municipal government of San Jose de Buan, Samar. The simple turnover, took place on April 5, was witnessed by Army top officials, led by Major Gen. Camilo Ligayo, Governor Sharee Ann Tan, and Senator Robinhood ‘Robin’ Padilla. (ROEL T. AMAZONA)

SAN JOSE DE BUAN, Samar– Ten housing units under the ‘Saad nga Balay’ project were turned over on Friday (April 5) to beneficiaries who are former rebel residents of the town.
Honorio Dacles, a former New People’s Army (NPA) member, was among the beneficiaries who received the housing units.

Dacles joined the communist group in 2018 after facing charges under Republic Act 9262, also known as the Anti-Violence against Women and Their Children Act of 2004, following an altercation with his teenage daughter.

Faced with a criminal case, Dacles decided to leave town and join the communist group. His two sons also joined him in the armed struggle, which lasted for more than two years due to the hardships they encountered while with the NPA.

In 2020, Dacles chose to leave the NPA and return to the fold of the law. He posted bail in court, and later his case was dismissed. His two sons followed suit, leaving the communist group to start living normal lives with their respective families.

Since surrendering, Dacles has received various forms of assistance from the government, with the housing project under the Saad nga Balay being the most significant.

“Maraming salamat sa tulong ng gobyerno na binigay sa amin dahil kami galing sa bundok, naghirap ng ilang taon pero sa ngayon na nandito na kami, maraming salamat sa mga binigay ng tulong ng gobyerno,” Dacles said during the turnover program.

He then urged his former comrades to surrender and enjoy the benefits being given to former rebels who decided to return to the fold of the law.

The turnover ceremony was attended by Senator Robinhood Ferdinand Padilla, Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan, 801st Brigade Commander BGen Lenard Lelina, LtCol Francis Rugayan, Mayor Joaquin Elizalde, Office of Civil Defense Regional Director Lord Byron Torrecarion, and Technical Education Skills Development Authority Regional Director Gamaleil Vicente Jr.

The Saad nga Balay project, worth P4 million, is funded by the provincial government and the local government unit of San Jose de Buan, with 16 houses to be constructed, 10 of which have been completed and turned over to the initial list of beneficiaries.

“Mula sa mga peacebuilders ng San Jose De Buan, ipinapaabot namin ang aming taos-pusong pasasalamat. Ang inyong mga tulong na ibinigay sa amin ay hindi mawawala at hindi namin makakalimutan” Tito Labong, who is also a former rebel and president of the San Jose de Buan Peacebuilder.

“Ang aming maipapangako sa inyo, habang buhay pa kami, hanggang sa ano ang aming magagawa, tutulong at tutulong kami sa gobyerno upang umunlad, magkaroon ng kapayapaan ang San Jose De Buan kasama na ang buong Pilipinas,,” he added.

Labong then urged active rebel members to leave the armed struggle and formally surrender to the government and benefit from programs aimed at helping them become active members of normal communities.

During the program, Sen. Padilla announced that he would be donating funds for the construction of an additional housing unit after being informed that one beneficiary was added to the original 16 former rebel beneficiaries.

“This is the real solution to the problem. We have a government that works; all we need to do is help our government work efficiently,” the senator said.

Padilla then lauded Governor Tan’s administration for funding the project, which demonstrates the government’s commitment to advocating for change.

In her message, Gov. Tan shared good news with the former rebels in San Jose de Buan, announcing that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) would be hiring 10 individuals from their group to be trained as forest rangers.

“From FR or former rebels, you will now become FR or forest rangers because some areas of San Jose de Buan are within the protected area,” the governor announced.

The DENR issued a gratuitous special use permit as the 3.4 hectare of used for the housing program was identified by the municipal government as a timberland.

B/Gen Lelina, one of the brains behind the conceptualization of Saad nga Balay, hopes that this will be replicated by other local government units.

Replicating the Gawad Kalinga concept of building housing units through “bayanihan,” BGen Lelina said that they are glad that more government agencies and non-government organizations have signified their support.

The latest on the list to signify support includes the National Housing Authority, and Habitat for Humanity, and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).

The Saad nga Balay project for San Jose de Buan began planning in 2022, with groundbreaking held in August of last year.