Ex-rebels, soldiers undergo livelihood training

TWENTY-THREE soldiers and 18 former rebels are undergoing a five-day livelihood training and immersion on coconut technology being conducted by the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) in partnership with the Philippine Coconut Authority-Research Center (PCA-RS) in Zamboanga City.

Major Arvin John Encinas, Westmincom spokesperson, said Wednesday, September 4, that the 18 former rebel participants are either former Abu Sayyaf bandits, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Dawlah Isalamiya, and New People’s Army.

Encinas said the training, which kicked off Tuesday and ends Saturday, is being conducted at the PCA Research Center at Sitio San Ramon in the village of Talisayan, west of this city.

Colonel Gerry Besana, Westmincom’s Civil-Military Operations chief, said the conduct of the training has the following objectives: to provide livelihood opportunities for the former fighters and soldiers; to develop an atmosphere of camaraderie towards unity despite diversity as part of the confidence building measures between and among former combatants; to showcase inter-agency partnership and collaboration towards peace-building and addressing the root causes of radicalization; and, to determine grassroots' perspective of our campaign goal end state of “a peaceful and conflict resilient communities.”

Brigadier General Francisco Ariel Felicidario III, Westmincom deputy commander for administration, has urged the participants to listen attentively to the lecturers and share their learning to their fellow citizens in the community for a common goal that is peace building.

The training is aimed to equip the former rebels with livelihood skills to enable them to earn while living a peaceful life. (Bong Garcia/SunStar Philippines)


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