Duterte to turn-over free NHA housing units to former NPA rebels

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TAGUM CITY— President Rodrigo Duterte is set to turn-over 300 housing units produced by the National Housing Authority (NHA)  to former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels anytime this month.

The Freedom residences, sits  in  a three-hectare area in Cuambogan, this city,  the  first settlement for rebel returnees in the country.

The ex-rebels housing project, is  just ten minutes away from the city proper, was established in 2012, for the  members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (AFP/PNP) but they refused to occupy their units as it was not structurally sound and the production was at par compared to other low cost housing units,

But when President  Duterte assumed in 2016, National Housing Authority (NHA) manager Marcelino Escalada had the units evaluated and  enhanced the building.

This time,  it is equipped with loft which will serve as a bigger bedroom with a steel ladder and a washing area at the back of each unit.

To date, 50 housing units are ready for occupancy with 31 former rebels awaiting the turn-over by President Rodrigo Duterte which will take place anytime.

The housing units was made available to the former rebels  after the  personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) — the original beneficiaries of the project — decided to waive their rights in favor of the former NPAs.

On Friday, February  1, Escalada along with AFP Commanding General  Lt. Gen.  Macairog Alberto inspected  the “Biyaya ng Pagbabago” Freedom Residences.

Escalada, who is also secretary general of the Housing Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), said those who will qualify after the evaluation of documents can be accommodated in the village .

NHA General Manager Marcelino Escalada steps on the stairs to show Army Commanding General Lt. Gen.  Macairog Alberto the loft of the enhanced houses for the ex-rebels.-Contributed photo

The house and lot package cost PHP450,000, will be given for free and the beneficiaries will have to sign the agreement with the NHA.

He said Freedom Residences has a total of 375 units, with provisions for a training facility to provide former rebels the necessary livelihood skills.

Aside from the houses, the village will be provided a commercial and  trading center to provide livelihood to the former rebels.

The 31 ex-NPAs are among the first 50 beneficiaries that have been fully evaluated by the government through the Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Evaluation Program (e-CLIP).

Alberto said the housing units for former rebels showcase “President Duterte’s commitment to provide housing to all former rebels and give them new space to live a normal life with their families, this is a big leap  to the country’s fight against insurgency.”

“Malaking tulong ito sa ating mga kababayan, makasama na natin sila sa mga programa nga gobyerno, this is very important and this is a very good project,” Alberto added.

Maj. Gen. Felimon T. Santos Jr., commander Eastern Mindanao Command, added that aside from the E-CLIP programs, Army units have also been directed to “work closely with other government agencies and stakeholders for them to come up for a comprehensive program” for former rebels.

“Critical to the FRs (former rebels) is the post-surrender intervention and social preparation,  which allows them to be integrated into mainstream society as a productive and law-abiding citizen,” Santos noted.-Editha Z. Caduaya with PNA report

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