About 500 Malayang Magbubukid ng Asyenda Luisita (MALAYA) members and their dependents benefited from the peace caravan of the government and private partners at Barangay Balete in Tarlac City.
Dubbed as “Peace Caravan Para sa MALAYA”, it offered free medical check-up; eye check-up; dental check-up; X-ray examination; blood typing; haircut; influenza vaccination; national ID registration; birth registration; skills training; and distribution of food packs, school supplies, hygiene kits and medicines.
In a message read by 3rd Mechanized Infantry Battalion Commander Lieutenant Colonel Jeszer Bautista, 7th Infantry Division Commander Major General Andrew Costelo lauded the unwavering commitment and dedication of local government units and national government agencies in creating a peaceful and progressive community, particularly for MALAYA farmers.
“These efforts serve as a testament to our collective dedication in addressing the problem of MALAYA. Let us utilize this opportunity not only to express our solidarity but also to reaffirm our commitment in creating an environment where everyone has the chance to thrive and live a life of dignity,” Costelo noted.
For his part, Tarlac 2nd District Representative Christian Yap commended the peace caravan as a good initiative to sustain the status of the province as in a state of stable internal peace and security.
“It is great that we have this kind of program to prevent insurgency, and to let people know what the government is doing for them. An insurgency-free community or province would mean more livelihood and employment opportunities as peace and security is highly needed for investors to come in,” Yap explained.
The peace caravan is among the activities prepared in line with the 19th commemoration of the Hacienda Luisita incident.
During the program, a total of 23 former members of Alyansa ng Magbubukid ng Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) formally withdrew their support to Communist Terrorist Groups, and returned to government fold as new members of MALAYA.
MALAYA Chair Florida Sibayan lauded the former AMBALA members for choosing peace in the community, and setting a good example to others.
“Thank you [new MALAYA members]. You will not regret your decision to support our government,” Sibayan stated.
She likewise urged other AMBALA members to give up in the armed struggle, and to join the government in advocating peace and development.
Meanwhile, the “kaPALAYPaan” program for MALAYA farmers was launched by the Armed Forces of the Philippines Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM), Rice Up Farmers Inc., and Sakahon.
It is an agri-business training program that aims to upgrade the agricultural productivity and livelihood of beneficiaries.
Under the “KaPALAYpaan”, a total of 100 MALAYA members will undergo a 15-day comprehensive community-based training on financial literacy management to empower them in boosting their enterprises.
In a statement, NOLCOM Commander Lieutenant General Fernyl Buca reiterated the value of the training in involving the farmers not only in maintaining peace and security, but also in achieving food security in their community and the country.
“With the government and its private partners, we are committed to supporting sustainable agriculture and rural development. We are hopeful that upon completion of the training program, these farmers will be provided with financial assistance to start their local agri-business, and no matter how small it is, it will surely boost food security, and foster peace and community development,” Buca said.
The military official also recognized their stakeholder for working hand-in-hand with the government to provide opportunities for the farmers.
He vowed that the training will promote community development and establish peace and prosperity in rural areas.
For his part, Rice Up Farmers Inc. CEO and Young Farmers Challenge Club Inc. President Elvin Laceda cited other services for the farmers upon completion of the training.
“Once you have completed the training, we will assist you in obtaining a bank loan with zero percent interest to start your agricultural enterprise,” he pressed.
The peace caravan was a multi-sectoral effort in a bid to address the needs of farmers in Hacienda Luisita, particularly the MALAYA members.
It carried the theme, “Tuloy-tuloy na Pag-unlad, Tuloy tuloy na paglaya ng Malayang Magbubukid ng Asyenda Luisita”. (CLJD/TJBM-PIA 3)