REBEL RETURNEES: Governor Jose Alvarez talks to the rebel returnees as he hands them the envelopes containing the cheques for the financial assistance on January 8, 2019, at the Governor's Office. (Photo courtesy of the Palawan Provincial Information Office)

Eighteen rebel returnees received P25,000 livelihood assistance package recently from the Palawan provincial government which they could use in achieving permanent closure to their past life in the armed guerilla struggle.

The assistance packaged was given to the rebel returnees personally by Governor Jose Alvarez and representatives of the Western Command (WESCOM) through the Local Social Integration Program (LSIP) under the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO).

It was awarded to them on January 8 at the Governor’s Office in the Provincial Capitol Building.

A provincial government employee helps a former rebel fill up forms after receiving the livelihood package assistance on January 8. (Photo courtesy of the Palawan Provincial Information Office)

The provincial government’s help can be used by the rebels in setting up livelihood projects that could help return the quality of their life that is worthy of honor or respect in their respective communities.

“Sana tuloy-tuloy na ang inyong pagbabalik loob sa amin (I hope that your return to us will be permanent),” said Capt. Lemuel Espartinez, assistant chief of the Unified Command Staff (UCS) for Operations of the Philippine Navy-General Staff Course (PN-GSC) under the WESCOM.

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Lucita Padul, social welfare officer III of the PSWDO, said the 18 rebel returnees are still expecting to receive P65,000 each from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

“Inaasahan na matatanggap nila ito sa lalong madaling panahon (They are going to receive it as soon as possible),” Padul said.

PSWDO chief Abigail Ablaña in her message during the awarding ceremony said they will continue to help the former rebels and will monitor the progress of their journey of renewal.

“Kung kayo po ay may kailangan pa, huwag kayong mag-aatubiling lumapit sa Pamahalaang Panlalawigan at sa aming tanggapan dahil nakahanda kaming ibigay kung ano man po ang inyong mga pangangailangan sa abot ng aming makakaya (If there is anything that we can help you with, don’t hesitate to come to the provincial government and our office because we are ready to support you in your needs that are within our means),” said Ablaña.

The provision of financial help was made possible under the LSIP by Provincial Ordinance No. 1540 approved in 2015 or “Establishing the Implementing Guidelines on the Provision of Assistance to Rebel Returnees.”

It aims to give opportunities to the rebels in Palawan to return to government fold and become productive citizens again.

The 3rd Marine Brigade (MBde) also attended the event.

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