TESDA to train former rebels in South Cotabato

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/12 March) – At least 100 former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in South Cotabato province are set to undergo skills trainings as part of the national government’s enhanced reintegration program.

Rafael Abrogar II, regional director of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, said Tuesday preparations are ongoing for the training of the rebel returnees in partnership with the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion (IB) based in Tupi town, South Cotabato.

He said they have scheduled the profiling of the prospective beneficiaries this week to determine their training needs.

“They will be gathered and preferably undergo training on construction,” Abrogar told reporters.

He said the returnees could later gain employment in various infrastructure projects in the province under the national government’s flagship “Build, Build, Build” program.

The official said the move is the agency’s response to President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s calls for the hiring of more local skilled workers to fast track the program’s implementation.

Abrogar said the training program, which is supported by TESDA Director General Isidro Lapeña, is part of the agency’s mandate to assist former rebels gain “life-changing economic opportunities” through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

He said it is aimed to provide the returnees with proper technical skills for employment and livelihood.

The trainings are expected to increase the productivity of the beneficiaries, enable them to become self-reliant and become entrepreneurs or productive citizen-workers, he said.

Citing discussions with 27IB commander, Lt. Col Jones Otida, Abrogar said the trainings can either be provided in an accredited training center or in a venue convenient for the rebel returnees.

He said they will involve local government units and national government agencies in the program’s rollout.

These include the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Trade and Industry.

Abrogar said the beneficiaries could avail of other support assistance from these agencies in the form of livelihood starter kits and further entrepreneurial trainings.

“This will provide better opportunities to the beneficiaries for employment and livelihood after the trainings,” he added. (MindaNews)