AROUND 50 rebel returnees, who were enrolled in Technical Education and Skills Development Authority's (Tesda) free skills training, graduated March 8 at the Regional Training Center in Buhisan, Tibungco, Davao City.
Melody Ann B. Booc of Tesda-Davao said Thursday that the former rebels were able to complete their training, which ran for 20 days, in line with Tesda's National Integration Scholarship Program (NISP), which seeks to empower the former rebels and help them go back to the mainstream society.
She said ex-rebels were enrolled in different courses such as automotive technology and civil technology.
They will be provided with starter tool kits by the government so they could start their own livelihood after their training. The government agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) will also make intervention to help them look for a job.
Tesda Secretary Guiling Mamondiong, who led the launching of NISP last February 16 in Davao, said the program will prioritize the training of rebel returnees.
"Ito po yong unang hakbang for their integration in the socio-economic and political [aspect] of the Indigenous People at rebel returnees. Inumpisahan natin sa education because ito ay, sabi ng iba, great equalizer. Pag may education ka lahat po ay pwedeng mangyari sa buhay mo," he said.
The newly-graduated former rebels were provided with free training, free dormitory, and were also given food allowance. There were also special privileges in terms of educational requirement since some of them were not able to finish high school.
The list of beneficiaries was verified by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to certify that they are indeed former rebels.
Their enrollment to the skills training was in line with the promise of President Rodrigo Duterte during his dialogue with them to help improve their lives.
Aside from the rebel returnees, the Tesda program also caters to Indigenous Peoples (IP).
Those who are interested and qualified IP applicants may avail themselves the technical-vocational courses provided by Tesda.