IN line with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr,’s peace agenda, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has initiated a Peace Caravan in Maimbung, Jolo, Sulu to provide cash assistance and welfare goods to former violent extremists (FVEs) in the area.
DSWD Undersecretary for Inclusive-Sustainable Peace and Special Concerns (ISPSC) Alan A. Tanjusay, together with Assistant Secretary for ISPSC Arnel B. Garcia and Field Office IX (Zamboanga Peninsula) Director Riduan Hadjimuddin, led the provision of the socio-economic packages to around 500 FVEs.
The FVEs, who willingly surrendered and wished to be reintegrated into their respective communities, were provided with food packs, hygiene kits and one-time cash assistance amounting to P10,000 each through the DSWD’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS).
Other government agencies which participated in the Peace Caravan and provided services to the beneficiaries were the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), and Sulu Police Provincial Office (PPO).
The DSWD officials also engaged in an open dialogue with the FVEs to discuss their concerns and challenges for the next phase of the peace efforts.
The FVEs have expressed their willingness to work closely with the DSWD on certain issues, especially with regard to their surrender and reintegration.
Organized by DSWD Zamboanga Peninsula, the event dubbed “Hatid Serbisyo para sa Pangkapayapaan, Tulay para sa Nagkakaisang Bayan,” was in collaboration with the 11th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (11th ID, AFP) and the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
The Peace Caravan was part of the Department’s commitment to the implementation of Executive Order No. 70 or the Whole-of-Nation Approach to serve former combatants and promote inclusive and sustainable peace.
The caravan and other peace-promoting activities are a testament to the peace efforts of the Department to transform more FVEs to work with the government as productive citizens.