MILF combatants received farm tools and farm animals from the Office of the Presidential Peace Adviser on the Peace Process or Opapp in Camp Darapanan, MILF base. Jacob Palao, 56, is not a typical guerrilla. He fights with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF and farms for the rest of the week. Their lives changed when he and other 126 MILF combatants received not just farming aids from the government but also livelihood assistance. This is an improved method ever since the amnesty given to the rebels during the Marcos era.
Youtube video by; Tayo Ang Bukas Spyder Friends
[VIDEO]: Historical video: 1980 A short video clip of Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos. Filipino rebels filed into Malacanang palace in Manila in response to the “Amnesty arranged and will be given by Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos”
Life in Combat
Palao spent many years of his life in combat until the Aquino government and MILF struck a peace deal in 2014. It gave him hope to end the war while still alive. The farming assistance would help MILF combatants to nurture productive lives away from danger, said Palao. “I can now live peacefully with my family,” he added. “It’s unlike in the past when I could not tell whether I would come home alive or not,” he explains in tears.
Marcos’ Amnesty for the Rebels
The Marcos government at one time gave amnesty to 84 members of the communist New People’s Army. They surrendered in a formal ceremony in Negros Occidental province, 300 miles south of Manila. Then Brig. Gen. Alfredo Olano, the area military commander at that time said; the rebels ranging from 14 to 70 years operated in three mountain villages on sugar fields in Negros. Those who surrendered are required to take an oath of allegiance at a ceremony witnessed by military and local government officials. After that, they are free to mix with the locals and can avail of the land reform and livelihood programs.
Aquino’s Livelihood Provision
During the Aquino administration, each of the 14 rebel returnees got a P50,000 check intended for livelihood. This is for them to formally start with their own project proposals in the form of Business and Individual Reintegration Plan they submitted to the Provincial Social Welfare and development Office or PSWDO. There are no more reports after that on how they progress.
Livelihood Opportunities that can Change Lives
Agriculture Undersecretary Ranibai Dilangalen said the new initiative is part of the President’s commitment to the peace process with Moro rebels. They had agreed to an expanded autonomous region. Santiago explained that the program is different from previous livelihood programs offered to rebels before. “We are looking at changes and these are not just giving and receiving. This is about making a social change – not only with the decommissioned combatants but also their communities,” Santiago clarified.