By Zaldy De Layola
MANILA – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Saturday distributed food assistance to former members of groups affiliated with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) at the Munting Nayon covered court in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City.
The recipients are based in different relocation sites and areas for demolition in the cities of Caloocan, Manila, and Pasig, as well as in the provinces of Bulacan and Rizal.
They were former members of Zone One Tondo Organization (ZOTO) and Koalisyon ng Maralita (KnM).
Undersecretary Alan Tanjusay of the DSWD’s Inclusive-Sustainable Peace and Special Concerns led the distribution of family food packs to 300 individuals, coinciding with the oath-taking and general assembly of returnees to government fold.
He said the provision of food packs was not just a simple turnover of boxes. It also symbolizes hope.
In his message, Tanjusay extended his gratitude to the returnees for cooperating with their group leaders as they reintegrate into society.
“Nawa’y magtuloy-tuloy at mas marami pa kayong mahikayat na kababayan natin na sumapi sa ating samahan (We hope that you continue to encourage more of our fellow-Filipinos to join our cause),” Tanjusay said, according to a DSWD news release.
The participation of the DSWD in the general assembly of the returnees, organized by the Peace and Development Task Force (PDTF), is a milestone partnership with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and DSWD.
PDTF is a non-governmental organization established by Joel Algodon, a former member of KnM, to promote peace and encourage those affiliated with and involved in the activities of CCP-NPA-NDF groups to return to the government.
Rose Marie Algodon, wife of the PDTF founder and a former member of KnM herself, said it was the first time the DSWD reached out to their group.
“Talagang ramdam namin ang pag-abot ninyo para sa aming urban poor. Ramdam namin na direkta na kaming makahihingi ng assistance para sa mga pangangailangan ng mga maralitang taga-lungsod (We really feel that the government is ready to help the urban poor. We feel that we can directly seek assistance from DSWD to address the needs of the urban poor),” Algodon said, as quoted in the same news release.
A returnee who identified herself as Rosaly, 58, said the food packs will tide them over, especially the children.
The DSWD initiative is tied with Executive Order No. 70, signed in December 2018 by former president Rodrigo Duterte, creating the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict that employs a whole-of-nation approach to end communism and institute peace-building initiatives. (PNA)