THE Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), along with various partner-government agencies and offices, unveiled its poverty reduction, livelihood, and employment project in Himamaylan City earlier this week.

Dubbed "Barangayanihan Para sa Kauswagan Sang Barangay Carabalan," the program was launched in Barangay Carabalan in the southern Negros Occidental locality.

About 107 participants composed of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) personnel, and agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) and their families attended the activity.

Tesda-Negros Occidental Acting Provincial Director Romelia Nuezca, who spoke at the activity, said Barangay Carabalan was identified as the program recipient considering its status as an insurgency-cleared barangay according to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

For his part, Tesda-Western Visayas Director Jerry Tizon said the program is part of the agency's effort as the chair of the Poverty Reduction, Livelihood and Employment Cluster (PRLEC) of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac).

The task force was created through Executive Order 70, which aims to bring government services closer to the people and address problems contributing to insurgency.

Tizon said the training is just a start and one of the interventions given by Tesda.

"The Heavy Equipment Operation (Bulldozer) NC II is the first program we chose for the residents here," he said, adding that "we believe that it will be an instrument for other government programs to penetrate in this upland and rural area."

Himamaylan City Mayor Rogelio Raymund Tongson Jr. expressed his gratitude to Tesda and its partners for the project.

Tongson assured the agency of the City Government’s support to whatever development programs the agency plans to bring to the city.

The mayor then urged the beneficiaries to finish the training since Tesda's national certificate has now become a requirement by the industry.

In a video message, Fifth District Representative Ma. Lourdes Arroyo said bringing government programs and services closer to people, particularly those in far-flung areas, will help end the conflict and armed struggle in the country.

"In pursuit of our country's peace agenda, let us continue to help one another. Let us work hand-in-hand and embrace each other so that we can achieve the peace that we have all hoped and longed for," she added.

Mario Foldadero, one of the beneficiaries, said the program is a big help not just for them but for the entire community.

Residents living at the project sites covering Sitios Cabalungan, Florete, and Canagba-an are hoped to have a passable road through the project.

"I am very happy that there's a training in our barangay. This is a big help as we no longer need to go to other places to avail the training and obtain NC II certificate from Tesda," he added.

Part of the activity was the signing of pledge of support and cooperation to the implementation of "Barangayanihan para sa Kauswagan sang Barangay Carabalan" by representatives of partner government offices.

The program was in partnership with the City Government of Himamaylan, Barangay Carabalan Council, DILG, Department of Agrarian Reform, Philippine Army and its Engineering Battalion, and Philippine Information Agency.

It aims to provide community-based training on Heavy Equipment Operation (Bulldozer) NC II and agri-related courses for ARBs of the barangay.

The training on Heavy Equipment Operation (Bulldozer) NC II will commence on Monday, May 17.

It will be implemented under Tesda's Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP) with Regional Training Center-Talisay as the training provider.

The 542 Engineer Construction Battalion will provide the heavy equipment to be used for the training.

Among the benefits included free training cost, free assessment, internet allowance, one-year accident insurance, health and personal protective equipment allowance, and training support fund or allowance of P160 per day. (EPN)