Duterte to turn-over Freedom residences to former rebels in Tagum City

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DAVAO CITY (July 16)— President Rodrigo Duterte will turn-over today 300 housing units produced by the National Housing Authority (NHA)  to former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in a village dubbed as Freedom Residences.

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

Former rebels who returned to the mainstream society and have been processed by the agencies concerned will receive the keys of their houses from Duterte.

The 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 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.

Marcelino Escalada, general manager of the National Housing Authority said when President  Duterte assumed in 2016, the agency 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.

“Freedom Residences, as we call it, because literally it is their freedom from the movement which prompted them to join the mainstream society, these housing units will be their source of pride and dignity, they’ve lost if-now we are giving it back to them-for free, and make them feel they are part of the society, who deserved government projects.”

To date, 100 housing units are ready for occupancy with 51 former rebels awaiting the turn-over.

Escalada and Commanding General  Lt. Gen.  Macairog Alberto inspected  the “Biyaya ng Pagbabago” Freedom Residences months ago.

NHA General Manager Marcelino Escalada and Army Commanding General Macaraig Alberto inspected the loft inside every NHA housing unit at Freedom Residences.-NewsLine.ph photo

The beneficiaries that have been fully evaluated by the government through the Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Evaluation Program (e-CLIP).

Escalada, who is also secretary general of the Housing Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), said those who will qualify after the evaluation by the government through the Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Evaluation Program (e-CLIP).

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..

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/NewsLine.ph

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