Zamboanga Del Sur LGU, NTF-ELCAC provide ‘good life’ to FRs to facilitate community reintegration
Zamboanga del Sur Governor Victor Yu expressed the province’s continuing commitment to sustain development projects initiated by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), particularly ‘Project Good Life.’
Attaining inclusive and sustainable peace and development across the country is among the priority goals of the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. It is also the mandate of the national task force.
“As the governor, of course, it is my job to assess the project when it was first presented to me. But seeing how concrete and sound their plan is, and also considering the urgency of the need to address insurgency, I immediately gave my full confidence and support to ‘Project Good Life,’” Governor Yu said during a courtesy call on Dec. 6 of Stephem Cabanlet, NTF-ELCAC director for Stakeholders Engagement.
‘Project Good Life’ is an initiative of Zamboanga del Sur’s Provincial Task Force-ELC
AC (PTF-ELCAC). It facilitates the reintegration of ‘Friends Rescued’ (FRs) or former rebels into the society. The project molds FRs into productive citizens who are active members of the community.
The end goal of ‘Project Good Life’ is to establish the community’s total acceptance of FRs, absent any form of discrimination, and the monitoring of their recovery and utilization of opportunities to lead a peaceful and secure life.
“What’s great about ‘Project Good Life’ is how it addresses aspects of ‘pagbabalik-loob’ – reintegration of FRs to the society as productive citizens and their healing from the wounds they suffered physically, emotionally, and spiritually,” Cabanlet said.
The project provides a transient facility, a fully functional halfway house for the FRs, where they can stay until fully prepared to live in the communities. While in the halfway house, they are given access to trainings provided by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to equip them with useful skills, in preparation for employment.
“Kapag nakumpleto nila ang training, makatatanggap sila ng National Certificate 2. This is to certify their skills, and widely recognized po ito ng mga companies kaya napapadali ang pagtulong natin sa kanila maghanap ng trabaho,” shared Artemio Tuñacao, a TESDA trainer assisting Project Good Life.
The FRs are also receiving psychological therapy which helps in their healing. One of the proponents of ‘Project Good Life,’ Moibe Olitres Ph.D., conducts psychological assessments necessary to completely prepare the FRs to socialize with others.
Zamboanga del Sur’s Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWD) and the Office of the Governor facilitate the processing of the FRs’ application for Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) for them to avail the benefits of the service while in the halfway house.
“When the FRs surface, we ensure that the reintegration phase is facilitated – sinisigurado naming nakakakuha sila ng services at ayuda at tinutulungan natin silang maka-avail ng E-CLIP. We are also doing our best to improve our monitoring kapag nareintegrate na sila. Yung meron na silang maayos na trabaho o nakakapagnegosyo sila nang maayos,” Samuel Rosario Jr., a PSWD social worker said.
Social workers also constantly volunteer to help ‘Project Good Life.’
“We are here to help give them another chance. Nagpapasalamat kami sa NTF-ELCAC at nagagawa naming makatulong sa kanila to recover emotionally and spiritually. Gusto namin silang tulungan hangga’t hindi pa huli ang lahat,” Razel Lozeriaga, a BS Social Work student said.
The provinces of the Zamboanga Peninsula have been declared insurgency-free. Yu assured there will be no letup in Zamboanga del Sur’s efforts to maintain peace and development in the area.
“This is not a reason for us to relax, insurgency is just around the corner. We are doing this to provide a better future for Zamboanga del Sur,” he said.
The governor also shared an anecdote of his first visit, as local chief executive, to a communist terrorist group (CTG)- infested area.
“Pumunta kami para bisitahin yung mga tao sa lugar. Nagdala kami ng Jollibee para matuwa ang mga bata. Imbes na matuwa sila, nagulat kami at nagtatakbuhan sila papasok ng bahay dahil sa pagkalito noong makita kami,” said Yu.
The NTF-ELCAC vows to continue its multi-pronged programs and reach out to the most far-flung areas, as it performs its mandate under Executive Order no. 70, institutionalizing a whole-of-nation approach in the attainment of lasting peace and prosperity.