DAVAO ORIENTAL – After being involved in the armed struggle for a period of time, 34 former rebels now enjoy freedom and peace with their families by their side.
During the awarding of housing units to the former rebels in Freedom Residences, Tagum City on July 16, 2019 attended by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte, the former rebels poured their hearts out in expressing their regrets in joining the armed struggle, which to them, was a concrete example of deception.
It took seven years for former rebel “Gina” to come up with the most sensible decision she has made in her life, returning to the folds of the law.
“My expertise in the movement before was organizing. And I was able to convince quite a number to join the movement in the hinterlands. And it was really a difficult time,” she said.
She said that she regretted joining the communist movement and the years she wasted fighting for something that inflicted terror to others and shattered her family apart. She said that the decision of joining them deprived her of the chance to be with her family and fulfill her responsibility as a mother.
“That time, I admit that I neglected my responsibility as a mother to my three children. I missed guiding them and seeing them grow. Now, with the housing units formally turned over to us, this means a lot. The house symbolizes that we are together again. And this is a new life for us, more meaningful, more precious,” she added, exuding with joy.
For former rebel “Jeffrey”, words are not enough to show and measure his gratitude for the sincerity of the government in attending to their needs.
“The housing units that we just received are of big help to us who just came from the hinterlands, starting over again, and who do not have our own residences. Now we are back to our families with no more fears because we are already free, and the government is here to help us and has provided us with what they had promised,” he stressed.
Jeffrey joined the movement in 2013 and surrendered in 2015. Now, Jeffrey is bent on fulfilling his duty as a provider and patriarch of the family.
“I will use what I have learned from my skills training in TESDA, in Carpentry and Automotive Mechanic. As I am starting to work now in Bukidnon, nothing can compare to the joy of being there for your family and protect them, and provide their needs. So, I would like to express my gratitude again to the government,” he furthered.
Task Force Balik-Loob Chair Undersecretary Reynaldo Mapagu explained that the recipients were given Certificate of Entitlement, proof that they now have their own houses. He said the houses are not yet fully completed because they will finish it themselves so that they will have a sense of belongingness and ownership of the property.
“This is an essential part of the E-CLIP offered by the government. This is a new approach, since this really looks into the needs of the recipients and their families. While finishing their houses, they will be compensated, and the compensation will serve as capital for their livelihood,” he added.
Governor Nelson Dayanghirang reiterated that the provincial government will continue helping the former rebels, and will not leave them at a lost by not equipping them with what are needed for them enjoy a normal life again.
To the former rebels, seeing their children playing around in their new houses, although obscure of what lies ahead for them with the government’s interventions, they can vividly see the happiness, the innocence, and confidence that with their families complete now. “The best is yet to come, and a dream has just come true for us,” said one former rebel.