BASILAN – More than 100 former members of the Abu Sayyaf who surrendered to the government finished the Alternative Learning System in Basilan province and received from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao various aid, including housing and farming projects as part of Program Against Violent Extremism (PAVE).
PAVE is the ARMM reintegration program designed to provide opportunities to former militants who returned to the fold of law to become productive members of society and assist the communities destroyed by the armed conflict.
John Louie Balagot, ARMM’s Cabinet Secretary and PAVE program manager emphasized that helping the Abu Sayyaf returnees is just one part of the reintegration program because the regional government is engage in assisting affected communities, especially the youth and women sectors, which have important roles in preventing terrorism.
“Isa din sa pinaka-objective ng program ay magkaroon ng reconciliation and healing process between the victims and the ASG returnees,” Sec. Balagot said, adding, the communities affected by the violence last year received housing and livelihood projects.
“Gusto na po namin ng kapayapaan at katahimikan kaya nagpapasalamat po kami sa pagtanggap sa amin at pagbigay ng tulong para mas maayos namin ang buhay ng pamilya namin,” Balaman Musad, one of the returnees, said.
Musad is helping construct houses in the community and is also a recipient of the livelihood project and ALS.
“Malaking tulong po talaga ang proyekto ng PAVE sa amin dahil nagkaroon na po kami ng pangkabuhayan at magkakaroon na ng sariling bahay,” said Leizel Arelon, a mother of two and one of the housing and livelihood project beneficiaries in the village of Tubigan in the town of Maluso.
Arelon’s family is among the survivors of the August 2017 massacre perpetrated by the Abu Sayyaf in Tubigan where militants torched house and killed civilians.
Muz-ar Angkun, another beneficiary, also attended the ALS classes. “Inaayos ko na po ang buhay ko ngayon para maging mabuting modelo sa aking mga anak at upang hindi sila maligaw ng landas,” he said. “Bilang ama ng walong anak, ayoko pong maranasan nila ang mga naranasan ko kaya nagsusumikap po ako ngayon para mas maging mabuti silang tao.”
They are also recipients of the ARMM’s Bangsamoro Regional Inclusive Development with Growth and Equity food distribution program. The ARMM’s Health Education Livelihood Peace and Governance and Synergy program, meanwhile, constructed infrastructure projects in the community.
ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman has earmarked P20 million for the implementation of the program, which also covers assistance to returnees from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. (Bureau of Public Information)
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