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Gov’t helps conflict-stricken Cotabato communities

Local News • 18:45 PM Sun Apr 2, 2023
John M. Unson
Residents of two two Cotabato towns benefited from the DSWD and TESDA interventions. (From 39th IB, 10th ID, PA) 

KIDAPAWAN CITY --- More than a hundred residents of now peaceful barangays in Makilala town in Cotabato underwent livelihood training last week and received cash allowances from the government as humanitarian support, officials said Sunday.

Five people’s organizations in Barangays Bato-Bato, Lama-Lama, Kimahuring, Ilustre and Salat in President Roxas, Cotabato also received the week before a separate P1.5 million livelihood assistance from the government for so-called geographically isolated and disadvantage areas, or GIDA.

The Photovoltaic Systems Installation and Organic Concoction and Extracts training last week for 150 members of different farmers’ associations in Makilala’s seven barangays --- Barangays Cabilao, Malasila, Sta. Fe, Sto. Niño, Malungon, Luayon and New Baguio --- were facilitated by the provincial office of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, supported by municipal and provincial officials. 

Local executives and barangay officials told reporters Sunday the Makilala municipal government and the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion under the 10th Infantry Division were instrumental in facilitating the training.

Stakeholders said the training was partly intended to boost peace and security in villages that are now bouncing back from hardships due peace and order problems in decades past.

Interior barangays in Makilala were once bastions of the New People’s Army, known for forcing villagers to provide food for its members and shell out “protection money’’ on a monthly basis.

Local executives said the 39th IB, the Makilala local government unit and the office of Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza are cooperating in sustaining the fragile peace now in barangays whose residents had suffered from the presence of rebels before.

In a statement Sunday, Lt.Col. Ezra Balagtey, commander of 39th IB, said TESDA’s Cotabato provincial office released P453,000 worth of training allowances last March 29 for the 150 trainees from the seven barangays in Makilala.

Balagtey said 25 of the 150 trainees received P6,750 cash and solar lighting sets each after having undergone orientation on photovoltaic systems.

Last week's TESDA activity was preceded by the government’s grant on March 24 of P1.5 million worth of livelihood support for residents of Barangays Bato-Bato, Lama-Lama, Kimahuring, Ilustre and Salat in President Roxas.

President Roxas is among the upland Cotabato towns being secured by the 39th IB.

The livelihood assistance program for the five people’s organizations in President Roxas, a capacity-building initiative of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, was meant to improve the productivity of beneficiary-communities. 

The socio-economic intervention --- aiming to address poverty and underdevelopment in areas in President Roxas that became impoverished due to presence of rebels in the past --- involves municipal officials, the DSWD, the Cotabato provincial government and the 39th IB.

Tessie Begoy, president of the Ilustre Multi-Sectoral Farmers Association in President Roxas, said they are grateful to the DSWD and other government entities for helping bail them out from poverty.

“We never thought that the local farmers in President Roxas would gain this attention and support from the government,” Bagoy said. 


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