TACLOBAN CITY — Getting a diploma never entered the mind of a man who introduced himself as Jade when he joined the New People’s Army at a young age.
“I have never experienced finishing school since I stopped at grade 1 but now I am a certified landscaper,” the teary-eyed Jade said.
Jade, who ranked third in his class, also received awards as best in indoor gardening and best in dish gardening, something that he is very proud to brag.
Jade is one of the 15 former NPA rebels in Samar and Leyte who are now ready take on a job after completing a 27-day skills training conducted by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
The livelihood training the former rebels have completed is the Landscape Installation and Maintenance (Softscape) NC II.
Soldiers for classmates
Among their classmates were 10 soldiers of the 8th Infantry Division who also attended the same training as the former rebels to show unity with them.
A simple graduation rite was held at the Villaconzoilo Farm School, Barangay Villaconzoilo, Jaro, Leyte on 20 January 2021.
The former rebel said he is happy with his decision to surrender to the government because he was not only given the opportunity to enroll in a course for free and a livelihood but also the chance to live peacefully with his family.
Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla said local government units are offering livelihood training to bring the government closer to the people and encourage rebels that some programs and services await them if only they return to the folds of the law.
He added that skills training is a venue for more rebels to address poverty in their families and communities which is being used by the NPA to lure and recruit individuals in the region.
TESDA Regional Director Gamaliel Vicente Jr. congratulated the graduates and hoped that more rebels would enroll for them to gain skills and later have jobs, which are beneficial for their families.
“TESDA is in full support to former rebels in providing livelihood training opportunities in pursuit of peace,” Vicente said.
Brig. Gen. Zosimo Oliveros, commander of the 802nd Infantry Brigade, who facilitated the surrender of some former rebels pledged to work and encourage more NPA surrenderers to sustain the gains of peace and development in the province.