Ex-MILF fighters finish TESDA skills training

Lore Mae Andong, ABS-CBN News Central Mindanao

Posted at Apr 25 2016 10:41 PM

MAGUINDANAO - More than 100 former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants have finished a skill training course of the Technical Skills and Development Authority (TESDA).

It was last year when 145 combatants were decommissioned, following signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro by the Philippine government and the MILF.

Out of the 145 fighters, 133 decided to take training programs under TESDA.

The 133 decommissioned MILF combatants accomplished their skills and entrepreneurship training programs within two months.

The trainings are part of the implementation of the agreement under Normalization Annex of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) entered into by the government and MILF last May 27, 2014.

These former MILF combatants underwent skills training programs as part of the socio-economic aspect of the normalization process where they are expected to live a normal civilian life.

These include bread and pastry production, cooking, dressmaking and tailoring, driving, carpentry, motorcycle and small-engine repair, automotive servicing, electrical installation and maintenance, and even how to start and manage a small business.

The government's chief negotiator Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said what the former MILF combatants have accomplished will serve as an inspiration for other MILF combatants.

"Sila din yung magbibigay inspirasyon na kapag natapos itong giyera na ito at pumasok sila sa proseso ng decommissioning, may maganda silang mapupuntahan, hindi yung bahala na sila sa sarili nila pagkatapos nilang sumabak sa giyera. Napakaganda nito kasi hindi naman lahat sa kanila ay sanay mag-aral," Ferrer said.

A 72-year-old former MILF combatant, Ahkmad Abdulsamad, said he chose to learn driving as he owns a multicab but does not know how to drive.

He said that despite his age, he still wants to learn and use this skill.

Ferrer said this shows the sincerity of the former MILF combatants, and that they are willing to live a normal civilian life.

The 133 former MILF combatants were awarded their certificates and given free tool kits and cash assistance for them to practice their new skills at home and even start a business for their families.

With the help of other government agencies, the former MILF combatants will be assisted in terms of acquiring a birth certificate and even getting a tax identification number or TIN from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

A development worker from the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Task Force on Decommissioning will continuously monitor them.

Meanwhile, TESDA officials said they are willing to accommodate those who want to study and learn more.