As part of its efforts to contribute to the country’s peace agenda, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) aims to reach more returnees this 2022 with its peace programs as it set a record high in the number of beneficiaries from its various peace-building initiatives last year.

As continuing support to the implementation of Executive Order No. 70, series of 2018, the DSWD was able to serve 6,083 former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) or former rebels (FRs), in 2021 from some 1,710 FRs in 2019, and 5,436 in 2020. The FRs were provided with assistance through various programs offered by the DSWD under its First Track. These include Sustainable Livelihood Program, Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations, Psychosocial Interventions and other Protective Services, and Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

In addition, more than 576,000 households in conflict-affected and vulnerable areas (CVAs) were given support and other interventions through the Second Track, which is directed towards communities. Identified households in said areas received assistance through programs such as, but not limited to, Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services, PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn or PAMANA, Social Pension, and Supplemental Feeding Program.

Aside from the implementation of EO 70, the Department also implements the livelihood and reintegration program for Kapatiran members, or former members of the Tabara-Paduano Group. In 2021, the DSWD released livelihood reinforcement grants (LRG) to Kapatiran members in Aklan, Cadiz, Eb Magalona, and the KAPATIRAN Farm Workers Association (KAFAWA) while social preparation and other documentary requirements for the release of LRG to other chapters are still on track.

Meanwhile, the DSWD is preparing for the implementation of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Transformation Program with former MNLF members as its beneficiaries. The DSWD Field Office IX, as the implementing Field Office, has allocated funds for the Bangsamoro Transitory Family Support Packages and cash for work program.

The Department also ensures proper handling and processing of these returnees through its enhanced Case Management Guide for Insurgent Returnees signed last 2021. The Guide intends to cover case management of former members of different groups who have taken up arms against the government. This 2022, the DSWD Field Offices are set to cascade the Guide to the local government units in order to capacitate the case management skills of the Local Social Welfare and Development Officers (LSWDOs) in terms of handling insurgent returnees.

The DSWD is committed to ensure that more former rebels, Kapatiran members, and former MNLF members will benefit from these peace programs in fulfillment and attainment of a sustainable, just, and lasting peace for all Filipinos in the next coming years. ###