Drug surrenderers, IPs, MILF members to get TESDA training March 2019

Sofia Tomacruz
TESDA Director General Isidro Lapeña says training will start with a 'core group' of some 2,000 MILF rebel returnees, 1,000 Higaonon IPs, and 1,800 drug surrenderers

TRAINING. Thousands of drug surrenderers, IPs, former rebels will start skills training unde the TESDA's special clients program. Graphic by Ken Bautista/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Thousands of indigenous people (IP), drug surrenderers, and former rebels from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will begin skills training with Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s (TESDA) this March 2019, TESDA Director General Isidro Lapeña said.

Lapeña said the beneficiaries, who were from the MILF’s Camp Darul Argam in Lanao del Sur, will undergo skills training in agriculture, baking, carpentry, food processing, welding, machinery, agri-crop production, and mechanics, among others.

The training will take place under the special clients program and will be held in TESDA centers in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City.

Training will start with a “core group” of some 2,000 MILF rebel returnees, 1,000 Higaonon IPs, and 1,800 drug surrenderers.

TESDA Specialist Wilma Bathan said the groups expressed their “strong desire” for training and livelihood programs in a meeting with the MILF’s 6th Brigade Commander Abdul Amoran and Macabinta Rasuman, who represents drug surrenderers.

Lapeña said he sensed that the group wanted to start skills training soon.

Yung feeling ko noong nag-uusap kami, parang naging attached sila sa TESDA at umaasa sila na matulungan sila, which will start with training with us,” Lapeña said, (I felt that they were attached to TESDA’s training and they hoped they would be assisted, which will start with [them] training with us.)

Bathan, government officials, international non-governmental groups, and Japanese experts pushed for the group’s skills training as early as 2014.

With the ratification and creation of the new Bangsamoro region, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is being gradually phased out to transition to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. (READ: Now that Bangsamoro law is ratified, what comes next?)

An important aspect of the transition is the “normalization” process, which includes the continued and gradual decommissioning of the MILF’s armed forces. This process started as early as 2015, as part of the peace deal between the MILF and the Philippine government.

During this period, MILFs soldiers from its armed wing, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces give up their weapons and transition to civilian life. The soldiers will take up livelihood programs and camps will be transformed into to productive communities.

Lapeña said Amoran offered 10 hectares of land in the MILF camp where training facilities may be built during a visit to the area on February 7, 2019. 

TESDA said it will next visit MILF Deputy Commander Yasser Samporma, who was also in Camp Darul Argam. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.