TESDA taps peace advocacy group for training of former rebels

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/25 April) – The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in Region 12 has linked up with a peace advocacy group in South Cotabato to facilitate the provision of skills trainings to former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in the area.

Rafael Abrogar II, TESDA-12 regional director, said Thursday they are currently exploring the rollout of various skills trainings for at least 70 former rebels in partnership with the People’s Advocacy for Collaboration and Empowerment Inc. (PEACE).

He said he met earlier this week with officials of the group to discuss their collaboration and the initial activities.

The meeting was facilitated by the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion and TESDA-South Cotabato provincial office.

“We discussed possible assistance programs, especially the technical trainings offered by the office that our former rebels may avail,” Abrogar told reporters.

The official said the target beneficiaries for the skills trainings are rebel returnees who are members of PEACE Inc.

He said they will conduct consultations and area study with the prospective beneficiaries to determine the specific skills that they need and other assistance from TESDA’s programs.

The TESDA provincial office is also preparing a project proposal regarding the skills trainings to ensure that these would lead to livelihood and employment opportunities for the rebel returnees, he said.

“We are committed to assist the needs of our returnees as they also strive to become productive citizens,” Abrogar said.

Last month, TESDA-12 conducted a profiling of at least 100 NPA rebels in the province who surrendered these past years for the provision of skills trainings.

Abrogar said the move is in compliance with instructions from TESDA Director General Isidro Lapeña to assist former rebels who are recipients of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program to gain “life-changing economic opportunities.”

He said the returnees will undergo training on construction-related skills for possible employment later on in various infrastructure projects in the province under the national government’s flagship “Build, Build, Build” program. (MindaNews)