January 29, 2023

It was an unusually warm day in Sayangan, Atok, Benguet, which is well-known for its cold weather, when we first met former cadres Sali, Karyl, and Myka (not their real names), who used to be New People’s Army members.
They have surrendered to the Police Regional Office-Cordillera, headed by B/Gen. Ronald Oliver Lee in April after deciding to abandon the life hiding, suffering from hunger and fatigue, and walking for days on the mountains. They yearned to live new lives with hope for the future.
Ka Myka grew up in the hinterlands of Abrawith a little economic opportunity, experiencing poverty at a young age. He was convinced to join the underground 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 movement. He was an active member of the mass organization for years wherein he was often tasked to run errands for them.
The promise to be provided a better life lured him to join the NPA, but unfortunately none of those promises were fulfilled.
Despite all those hardships, Ka Myka’s mission remained the source of strength and thought that everything would pay off. He felt fulfilled every time he had the opportunity to express the rights of every farmer in their community through dialogues. Along this, he 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 has released a total of P75,000 livelihood assistance for 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.
DOLE-Cordillera Director Nathaniel Lacambra, through the DOLE Baguio-Benguet, will provide each of the former cadres with a livelihood starter kit worth P25,000 under the DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP),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 more income from their farming activities and the sari-sari store package.
The DOLE Kabuhayanprogram is a poverty-reduction strategy that reduces the vulnerability risks of the poor, vulnerable, and marginalized workers through livelihood and entrepreneurial opportunities.
Lacambra said 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.
The DOLE is part of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict created under Executive Order 70 or Whole-of-Nation Approach in Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on Dec. 4, 2018.
The government agencies have complemented all their efforts in attaining sustainable peace to finally end insurgency in the country.
The Kabuhayanprogram is a flagship program of the DOLE that provides assistance for capacity-building on livelihood and entrepreneurial ventures for vulnerable and marginalized workers.
Its components are the kabuhayan formation that provides beneficiaries with startup capital to venture into individual livelihood, or collective enterprise undertakings; kabuhayan enhancement which provides existing livelihood undertakings with additional working capital to enable them to grow into viable and sustainable business; and the kabuhayan restoration, which provides working capital for the re-establishment of lost or damaged livelihoods due to occurrence of natural disasters/calamities.
The livelihood projects classified for group category as microlivelihood for an organization composed of 15 to 25 members can avail of a maximum P250,000 grant assistance; small livelihood – an organization composed of 26 to 50 members can avail of a maximum of P500,000; and the medium livelihood – an organization composed of more than 50 members can avail of a maximum of P1,000.000.
Individual beneficiaries can avail of the starter kit or Negosyo sa Kariton (Nego-Kart), up to a maximum grant assistance of P20,000, depending on the project requirement.
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 fisherfolk; women and youth; persons with disability; senior citizens; indigenous peoples; victims of armed conflicts; rebel returnees; and parents of child laborers.
Pantawid beneficiaries and government employees are not eligible for the assistance.