By Easter Anne Doza
NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, June 24 (PIA) –- A total of 70 former rebels (FRs) from Calatrava town and Escalante City are now armed, not with guns, but with certificates from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
After giving up the armed struggle and rebel-influenced principle, these FRs and their dependents graduated with new technical skills including Bread and Pastry Making and Electrical Installation and Maintenance NC II for Calatrava and Escalante FRs respectively.
About 47 FRs from Calatrava town finished the course under the Special Skills Training Program (SSTP) in partnership with the Local Government of Calatrava.
Calatrava municipal mayor Marilyn Era and TESDA Negros Occidental Acting Provincial Director Beverly Insular, with the 79th Infantry (Masaligan) Battalion and Atoniya Skills Education Inc., led the simple graduation rites held at the municipal hall.
Insular underscored that the program was conceptualized in response to the mandate of TESDA as the chair of the Poverty Reduction, Livelihood and Employment Cluster (PRLEC) of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) which is to provide responsive measures to address poverty affectation among marginalized communities and basic sectors through the Whole-of-Nation approach.
“TESDA has been doing everything to make sure that our programs and services will be felt by all sectors of society, to live up to our agency’s tagline “TESDA Abot Lahat,” Insular said.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Alvaran, Commanding Officer of 79th Infantry Battallion commended the FRs and their families, lauding their determination, perseverance and sacrifices to finish the training.
The FR-graduates from Escalante City successfully completed the training conducted by TESDA Provincial Training Center-Cadiz.
These 70 FR-graduates were given starter tool kits and training allowance ranging from P1,000 to P2,800.
SSTP is a TESDA Scholarship Program which provides skills training with entrepreneurship, free assessment, allowance of 100 per day, and free starter tool kits to the grantees.(LTP/EAD/PIA-Negros Occidental)