“Our future wasn’t in the mountains.”

This was what “Erwin” realized when he decided to give up his tough life in the mountains and return to the folds of the government. Erwin (not his real name) is one of the former rebels from Rosario, Agusan del Sur who surrendered to the government in 2018.

Looking back, Erwin describes his life in the mountains as difficult and exhausting. There were a lot of things they could not do such as seeing their families. He said that there wasn’t any future waiting for him and his family in the mountains. Because of this, Erwin knew that he had enough reasons to break away from the movement and choose a better path.

With the implementation of Executive Order No. 70 (EO 70) or the Whole-Of-Nation Approach to End Local Communist and Armed Conflict, Erwin and his fellow rebel returnees were given a chance to be hopeful and start a new life – a life that is safer and more peaceful.

Through the EO 70, Erwin and other former rebels received a myriad of assistance, intervention, and services from the national government. One of which is the Livelihood Settlement Grant (LSG) from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, through the Sustainable Livelihood Program.

LSG is a livelihood intervention program that aims to extend financial assistance to former rebels and their families which they may use as seed capital fund for their livelihood projects.

Erwin received an amount of PhP 20,000 and opted to open a sari-sari store. He also asked the help of his wife Maricel (not her real name) to manage the store. Maricel added PhP 10,000 to their capital so that they can buy more products and supplies for their store.

At present, Erwin and Maricel’s sari-sari store earns a minimum of PhP 500 a day or a total of PhP 15,000 a month. The couple has also kept an amount of PhP 10,000 for their savings.

Since they began their business, Erwin and Maricel have become optimistic about their future. They feel like they have been given a new chance to explore their life and work for their future. Maricel is elated that her husband made a bold decision to turn away from his former ideologies and chose their family as his priority.

“Pasalamat ko sa DSWD-SLP sa ayuda nga gihatag nila sa amoa. Dako pud akong pasalamat nga nibalik sa sabakan sa gobyerno na akong bana. Maningkamot ko nga matabangan akong bana nga mapalambo ug mapadako ning tindahan para sa nindot nga kaugmaon namo pamilya (I am grateful to the DSWD-SLP for the assistance they gave us. Also, I am thankful that my husband decided to return to the folds of the law. I will work hard to help my husband sustain and expand our store so that our family can have a bright future),” Maricel shared.

Both husband and wife are excited to explore their new life. They know that with the right amount of combination of diligence, perseverance, and patience, they can achieve a stable and happy life.

This venture is only the beginning of Erwin and Maricel’s journey towards a better and brighter future.

Maricel, the wife of a former rebel, poses for a photo with her son inside their sari-sari store in Rosario, Agusan del Sur. Maricel promises to assist her husband in managing their small livelihood project which was funded through the DSWD Sustainable Livelihood Program’s Livelihood Settlement Grant (LSG) Project.
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