It was an unusually warm day in Sayangan well-known for its cold weather, when we first met former cadres’ Sali, Karyl and Myka (not their real names) used to be a members of the New People’s Army (NPA). They surrendered to the Philippine National Police – Regional Office in the Cordillera (PRO-COR) headed by Police Brigadier General Ronald Oliver Lee, in April 2021 after deciding to abandon the life hiding, suffering from hunger and fatigue walking for days on the mountains. They yearned to live new lives with hope for the Future.

Ka Myka’s grew up in a hinterlands of Abra with a little economic opportunity experiencing poverty at a young age was was convinced to join the movement because of the NPA’s political narrative about the government’s apathy towards the people’s poverty; adding that it was not difficult to get enticed to join the NPA being an active member of the NPA mass organization for years wherein he was often tasked to run errands for them.

Promised to be provided a better life was the reason why he joined their ranks, but unfortunately none of those promises ever came true.

Despite all those hardships, Ka Myka mission remained the source of strength and thought that everything would pay off. Feeling fulfilment every time having the opportunity to express the rights of every farmer in their community through dialogues. Along this, got to hear their grievances in the community. As the years passed, Ka Myka realized that it was not getting the results being expected. So his story being a cadre ends here.

To support their reintegration to the mainstream society, Department of Labor and Employment-Cordillera Administrative Region (DOLE-CAR) released P75 thousand in total livelihood assistance to the three rebel returnees. The aim is to reintegrate the beneficiaries into the community to make them productive again and become part of the government’s development agenda.

Regional Director Nathaniel Lacambra through the DOLE Baguio Benguet Field Office (BBFO) will provide each of the former cadres with a livelihood starter kit worth Twenty Five Thousand Pesos (P 25,000.00) under the DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program or Kabuhayan Program.

All from the upland areas of Abra, the former rebels will be engaged in agricultural activities such as farming, hog raising and a sari-sari store. With the farming tools and materials for hog raising, the beneficiaries will be able earn greater income from their farming activities and the sari-sari store package.

The DOLE Kabuhayan Program is a poverty-reduction strategy that reduces the vulnerability risks of the poor, vulnerable and marginalized workers through livelihood and entrepreneurial opportunities.

As explained by Director Lacambra, the livelihood assistance also helps bring the government’s anti-insurgency thrust further to more remote communities which are often the breeding grounds for local terrorism and also, the DOLE being a part of the National Task Force To End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) created under Executive Order No. 70 or ‘Whole-of-Nation’ Approach in Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on December 4, 2018, many of the rebels have already made peace with the government.  The government agencies have complemented all their efforts in attaining sustainable peace to finally end insurgency in the country.

The DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP) or KABUHAYAN Program is a flagship program of the DOLE that provides grant assistance for capacity-building on livelihood and entrepreneurial ventures for vulnerable and marginalized workers. It’s components are the kabuhayan Formation provides beneficiaries with startup capital to venture into individual livelihood, or collective enterprise undertakings; kabuhayan Enhancement  provides existing livelihood undertakings with additional working capital to enable them to grow into viable and sustainable business and the kabuhayan Restoration – Provides working capital for the re-establishment of lost or damaged livelihoods due to occurrence of natural disasters/calamities.

The services that can be provided to the beneficiaries include provision of training on business planning, basic entrepreneurship development training, productivity and workers safety and health, and production skills; provision of working capital in the form of raw materials, equipment, tools and jigs and other support services and support services such as common service facility and training-cum-production can also be funded.

The livelihood projects classified for group category as Microlivelihood for an organization composed of 15-25 members can avail of a maximum grant assistance of P250,000.00; small Livelihood is an organization composed of 26-50 members can avail of a maximum grant assistance of P500,000.00 and the Medium Livelihood is an organization composed of more than 50 members can avail of a maximum grant assistance of P1,000.000.00 while individual beneficiaries can avail of the Starter Kit or Negosyo sa Kariton (Nego-Kart), up to a maximum grant assistance of P 20,000.00, depending on the project requirement.

The eligible beneficiaries of the DILP are the Self-employed workers who are unable to earn sufficient income;

Unpaid family workers; Low-waged and seasonal workers; Workers displaced or to be displaced; Marginalized and landless farmers; Marginalized fisher-folks; Women and Youth; Persons with Disability; Senior Citizens; Indigenous Peoples; Victims of Armed Conflicts; Rebel Returnees and Parents of child laborers.

Those who are beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and Government Employees, including those at the Local Government Units (LGUs) are not eligible for the DILP or DOLE Kabuhayan Program.

END/Patrick Rillorta