A globally-funded Rotary Training Center (RTC) was launched Tuesday inside the Iwahig Corrections Facility (ICF) in Puerto Princesa City to provide vocational and technical education to persons deprived of liberty (PDL).
The center is expected to help provide the PDLs with livelihood skills that can help them once they are released from imprisonment, said Tuesday by Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) director-general Gerald Bantag while visiting the penal facility.
Rotary Club International (RCI) provided P2.4 million through the Rotary Club of Puerto Princesa (RCPP) for the acquisition of some essential construction tools and equipment which can be used by the PDLs in their training.
Technical education, said Bantag, will be provided by their partners — Palawan State University (PSU), Holy Trinity University (HTU), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
“Itong livelihood, nakita naman ninyo na multi-million fund na binigay nila — napakaganda nito dahil ang skills ng ating PDLs, imbes na isang linggo nila ginagawa ay isang araw na lang dahil sa mga machine. Napakadali na lang at napakaganda ng project na ito. Magkakaroon sila ng livelihood, magkakapera kahit papaano kung mabibili ang kanilang produkto,” Bantag said.
“Ang plano nga ng ating superintendent, ng BuCor, ng ating Rotarian ay gagawin itong agro-tourism (site). Magto-tour ang ating mga bisita, maganda ang Palawan hindi lang sa beaches. Napakalaki ng potential kapag ito ay na-develop, makikinabang ang buong Palawan, buong community, buong BuCor at PDLs,” he added.
Rotary Club of Puerto Princesa president Lyn Moraga said that their project’s vision is to provide “sustainable livelihood opportunities to PDLs” so that when they rejoin their families after serving prison time, they will have better chances at life.
Aside from the grant provided to them, Moraga said the Rotary Club of Puerto Princesa also solicited almost P800,000 to build the training facility.
The tools provided, on the other hand, are planers, drillers, cutting saws, measuring tools, and generators.
“This project took five years before becoming a reality. Thanks to senior assistant governor Bobby Castro’s vision and president nominee designate Michael Pido’s diligence and perseverance. The ambitious project is from a vision to provide a sustainable livelihood for the ICF inmates by providing vocational skills, training, and the necessary tools and equipment,” she said.
Moraga said that in the RTC, the PDLs will be trained to further enhance their craftsmanship and boost the quality of their products. It will also equip them with entrepreneurship skills and economic literacy.
She said Binuatan Creations has also committed to help in the training of the PDLs in improving their products and raising their market value to make them appealing to buyers.
“Marami pa tayong mga susunod na global grant application project natin so hindi lang ito sa ICF, kung hindi sa ibang lugar din. Ang napag-usapan namin ay we will be extending itong project na ito na magkakaroon ng iba-ibang projects from this major project, parang dugtong-dugtong dito sa ICF,” Moraga added.
ICF superintendent Raul Levita said that out of the total population of 2,700 PDLs committed within its four subcolonies (Iwahig, Sta. Lucia, Montible, and Inagawan), many of them are skilled enough to produce different products.
However, due to the lack of necessary tools and training, they are not able to enhance the quality of their products to be competitive enough in the market.
“Hindi lang mas makakatulong kung hindi talagang makakatulong siya dahil marami tayong skilled na PDLs dito pero ang kakulangan ay gamit. Kung makikita niyo, multi-million ang mga gamit na ito na gagamitin ng PDLs sa pagpapaganda pa ng skills nila. Pero itong nakikita natin ay gamit lang ‘yan, itong global grant na ito ay makasama pa na seminars na sagot din ni Rotary Club so hindi siya mati-tengga,” he said.
Bantag is also positive with the potential of the ICF to venture into agricultural tourism, believing that BuCor could handle the concerns of security and safety under the new normal if the plan will materialize.
“Itong Palawan, matagal ng institution ng facility na ito. Kayang-kaya na ng BuCor, siguro pabayaan muna natin sila mag-serbisyo. Tingnan natin kung meron na negative man na outcome, siguro doon natin tatagan pero sa ngayon ay magtiwala ang buong sambayanan na kaya ng BuCor din at partners na pangalagaan ang concerns na ‘yan,” he said.