The government’s program to end insurgency has convinced over 400 former Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) sympathizers to reject the armed movement and lead a more productive life.
Arman Ruego, president of the Molo Baluarte Timawa Operators Drivers Jeepney Association (MOBTOJDA), said on Friday they used to be always on the streets marching against the government when they were still with the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) due to lack of understanding on the cause of what they were fighting for.
“We realized that what we were fighting under PISTON is not good so we decided to go back to the government and changed the name of our association to MOBTOJDA,” Ruego said in an interview.
The transport group joined the Duterte Legacy Caravan held at the Camp Martin Delgado regional headquarters of the Police Regional Office 6 on Thursday afternoon.
The group was used by the NPA to look for firearms, ammunition, food, medicine, and houses to provide temporary shelter to their wounded comrades during encounters, according to the transport member and former communist cadre Rey Cachuela, who left the armed movement after 35 years.
With the help of the Philippine Army, MOBTOJDA was registered with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and qualified to avail of livelihood assistance.
On February 19 this year, the association was granted PHP500,000 livelihood assistance and is expected to start a business selling vehicle spare parts this May.
Cachuela, who spoke during the caravan, said with the issuance of Executive Order 70 and the Duterte Legacy, their group felt the support of the government.
EO 70 harmonizes the delivery of basic services and social development packages in conflict-affected and vulnerable communities in pursuit of the county’s peace and development agenda.
“The Duterte administration does not make stories. We former rebels can use this as an example, especially for the remaining few others to surrender. We used to complain about the lack of benefits and services from our government which we can now feel under the Duterte administration,” Cachuela said.
Senior Labor and Employment Officer Danny Espinosa, in a separate interview on Friday, said the livelihood support to the MOBTOJDA is just one of the organizations that have benefited from the department’s services.
“Our program is not a dole out but we have a template so we can verify that their organization really exists. Their proposal was screened and evaluated before they were released the fund. We only enhanced their existing livelihood,” he added.
DOLE is a member of the Poverty Reduction, Livelihood and Employment Cluster, one of the 12 clusters of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.