“Naligaw man kami noon ng landas, nagalit, at nagkasala sa gobyerno, nandoon pa rin ang pagtanggap matapos kaming magbalik-loob (We may have gone astray before, became angry, and erred against the government, acceptance is still present after we surrendered),” Melchor (not his real name) uttered in tearful eyes.
Melchor is one of the 20 former rebels identified by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to be referred to the DSWD Field Office 1 – Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) for assessment and provision of Seed Capital Fund in 2020.
From the capital fund he received, he was able to raise two goats and now multiplied to eight. He sold a few of them and used his income to make both ends meet for his family.
Looking back, Melchor’s daily routine together with his fellow rebels inside the camp was to endlessly hike in the mountainous areas of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur, get severely tired and hungry, hide from the government’s soldiers, and witness right before his eyes other rebels die while hoping to fulfill the promises instilled in their heads by their leaders.
According to Melchor, his life became better when he gradually realized that his sacrifices were pointless. This is where he decided to turn his back on rebellion in 2019. “Walang nangyayari sa kanilang mga pinangako sa amin. Niloko lamang nila kami sa loob ng napakahabang panahon upang magtanim ng galit sa gobyerno at magrebelde. Kaya nagpasya akong bumaba na lang kasama ng aking kasintahan upang mas gumaan ang buhay namin (Nothing happened to their promises. They deceived us for so long to sow hatred and rebel against the government. So I, together with my partner, decided to just surrender to make our lives better),” Melchor said with great remorse.
“Sobra ang aking pasasalamat sa DSWD Field Office 1, AFP, PNP, at iba pang mga ahensiyang laging handang tumulong sa aming mabago at gumaan ang aming pamumuhay (I am very grateful to the DSWD Field Office 1, AFP, PNP, and other agencies that are always ready to help us change and live better),” Melchor said with sincere gratefulness.
The DSWD Field Office 1 is continuously working with other members of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to achieve the government’s goal of attaining a just and lasting peace in the country. (by: John Chris B. Zureta, Social Marketing Officer, Sustainable Livelihood Program)