200-hectare land awarded to 70 rebel returnees

THE Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) has awarded a 200-hectare land to more than 70 rebel returnees in Kibaritan, Bukidnon.

Eastmincom spokesperson Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, in a recent interview, said 72 rebel returnees are currently using the land to plant coffee, cocoa, rubber and other farm products.

"We have a military reservation in Kibaritan that is big enough to accommodate not only our enlisted personnel but for rebel returnees as well. We have seen that the rebel returnees are not used to having a living due to their experience with the New People's Army (NPA). That is why we are letting them use a piece of land in our military reservation so that they will be secure in maintaining their livelihood," Paniza said.

The rebel returnees will undergo seminars to be conducted by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to ensure that they will have increased production.

"With the help of DA and DAR, they could increase their chances of having a sustainable livelihood. These offices can help them process permits and facilitate an organization composed of the rebel returnees so that they will be able to ask for loans," Paniza said.

The army official also said the rebel returnees could bring their families and they could also establish their houses within the given land.

The awarding of the land was part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines program dubbed Guns for Peace where rebel returnees were given assistance after they surrendered their firearms to the military and went back to the folds of the law.

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