The first batch composed of 53 former Abu Sayyaf (ASG) terrorist group members who surrendered to government security forces has recently completed the 3-day Agri-Livelihood training program held at the Philippine Army’s 64th Infantry “Knights” Battalion (64IB) headquarters in Tumahubong town, Basilan.
The former ASG bandits received farm tools, fertilizer sprayers, and vegetable seeds from the said government program conducted on July 26-28, 2020.
“Ang pagbabago ay nandito. Noon, hindi namin nakikita ang pagbabago. Ngayon nakikita na namin ang suporta ng Philippine Government sa amin. At nakikita yun ng mga tao,” Muril Wiril, ASG surrenderee from Baywas, Sumisip said.
The Advancing and Sustaining Good Governance and Community Actions towards Resiliency and Empowerment (AS2GCARE) under the Program Against Violent Extremism (PAVE) is now pursuing the “Lupa para sa tao, Tao para sa lupa” Agri-Livelihood program for ASG returnees in support to the provincial government’s advocacy.
Balay Mindanaw Foundation Inc. (BMFI) spearheaded the training in partnership with the Office of the Provincial Government through the Office of the Provincial Agriculture (OPAg), the Municipal Government of Sumisip, and Joint Task Force Basilan as a venue of learning and an alternative to the exposure tours earlier conducted.
The program aims to transform the mindset of former insurgents from being a fighter to a productive citizen by engaging in agricultural farming activities as the primary source of living of Basileños and to sustain their daily needs as a response to COVID-19 pandemic.
The project will conduct a series of training on Agricultural Vegetable Production for the returnees this July and August which will benefit 265 surrenderees and they are divided into five batches.
Col. Domingo Gobway, Commander of the Joint Task Force Basilan (JTFB) attended the closing ceremony on July 28, 2020, together with Dr. Khayang Luy Battad from the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAG), Nurhati Tangging of BMFI, 64IB commanding officer Lt. Col. Renante Besa, and 68IB commanding officer Lt. Col. Freddie Calosing.
Col. Gobway acknowledged the partners and stakeholders for the “untiring support and commitment” in helping former ASG members to reintegrate well in their respective communities for peace and development in the province.
“In behalf of Joint Task Force Basilan kami po ay nagsusuporta at nakikiisa sa ganitong programa,” Gobway said. (Rene Carbayas, PIA)