DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental, June 23 (PIA) -- The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) together with the local officials in the province turned over on June 22 the new houses worth P16 million to 16 former rebels of the Peace and Development Community (PDC) at Sitio Ling-ab, Brgy. San Miguel, Tanjay City.
The OPAPRU funded this project with P8M for site development and another P8M for the construction of 16 single detached houses worth P500,000 each.
The 16 recipients are members of the Kapatiran para sa Progresong Panlipunan Inc. (Kapatiran), former members of the New People's Army (NPA).
Director Susana Marcaida of OPAPRU said another set of resettlement houses will be finished and given to rebel returnees by the last quarter of the year.
Veronica Tabara, co-chairperson of the Joint Enforcement and Monitoring Committee (JEMC) who represents Kapatiran, accepted the houses together with their respective beneficiaries.
Alfonso Dagodog, vice-president of the Kapatiran and one of the beneficiaries, said lots were drawn from 60 of their members and winners were given the new houses first.
Major Gen. Gerardo Catindoy of the Philippines Army's 53rd Engineer “Visayas Builders” Brigade congratulated the provincial government, the City of Tanjay, and other government agencies that contributed to the initial success of the first phase of the PDC.
Catindoy admitted that the project was delayed for over two years due to the pandemic but through the "cooperation of everyone," the project was realized.
He also commended the 542nd Engineer Construction Battalion for building 10 houses in just a month.
Though the funds were downloaded directly to the concerned units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Catindoy explained that the purchase of construction equipment had to undergo the long bidding process, further delaying construction of the houses.
Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo, chairperson of the Negros Oriental Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, has appropriated P5.5M for the Kapatiran, but was reportedly not approved by the provincial council.
"But rest assured, there are two Degamos (at the provincial board), I hope it would be passed," the outgoing governor said. "Let us set aside partisan politics so that we could help our community."
Queenlee Edralin of the Tanjay City Planning Department said the city facilitated in providing power and water for the PDC located 14 kilometers from the city center.
Also present during the turnover ceremonies were BGen. Leonardo Peña, commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade, outgoing Tanjay City Mayor Reynaldo Conception, Director Red Joel Elumba of the Department of Agriculture in Central Visayas, and Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Viernov Greefalde. (JCT/PIA7 Negros Oriental)