DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo (2nd from left) congratulates and engages in light banter with the graduates who were displaced by the 2013 Zamboanga siege.
DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo (2nd from left) congratulates and engages in light banter with the graduates who were displaced by the 2013 Zamboanga siege.

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo personally congratulated the 320 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Zamboanga City who completed their technical skills training program yesterday which was initiated and funded by the DSWD Regional Office IX in partnership with the Zamboanga City local government, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and Our Lady of Triumph (OLT) Institute of Technology.

Aside from Sec. Taguiwalo, the graduation ceremony, staged at MGM Gymnasium in Ozamis City, was attended by DSWD FO-IX Regional Director Atty. Araceli F. Solamillo, DSWD FO-IX Asst. Regional Director for Operations Consejo H. Usman, and other program partners.

The graduates were the last batch of IDPs affected by the 2013 Zamboanga siege who have undergone carpentry and masonry training, and housekeeping training in state-of-the art facilities offered and provided by the OLT through the Department’s Disaster Rehabilitation Fund worth P17M.

Since July 2016, the technical skills training program has already produced over 500 graduates who were immediately sent to Manila for job placement with the help of the OLT’s national and international employment partners.

In her message for the graduates, Sec. Taguiwalo emphasized that the Department will continue to monitor the progress of the program recipients. She also commended them for their efforts to transition from being mere recipients of assistance to becoming productive members of the society.

“Hindi na lamang tayo mga biktima at survivors ngayon, tayo ay mga victors na ngayon dahil napagtagumpayan natin ang lahat ng mga pagsubok na dumaan sa buhay natin. Naipakita natin na kahit na anong kalamidad ang pinagdaanan natin, mayroon tayong angking kakayahan at dignidad para bumangon (We are no longer victims and survivors. We are victors now because we have won and surpassed life’s challenges. We have proven that despite the unfortunate calamity we have encountered, we still have the capacity and dignity to stand up and achieve triumph)”, Sec. Taguiwalo said.

Meanwhile, the LGU of Zamboanga also provided additional P2,000 financial assistance to each of the families of the graduates for their other expenses.

September 2013 was when the people from Zamboanga witnessed three weeks of intense firefight between the Moro National Liberation Front and the government troops which left hundreds of civilians and soldiers from both sides dead, thousands of homes destroyed and over a hundred thousand people from Zamboanga involuntarily displaced. MNLF members were protesting the failure of the government to implement the provisions of the peace pact signed in 1996.

With President Duterte extending his hand of peace to different Moro groups including the MNLF, hopes are high towards attaining a just and lasting peace in Mindanao and in the whole nation. A just and lasting peace makes it possible for DSWD to deliver its many services to the people and in the long run, a just and lasting peace will improve their quality of life

Secretary Taguiwalo said that all Filipinos should support the peace talks between the government and the MNLF. “We should all work together to bring peace to the Philippines. Ending armed conflict can be done through collective efforts focused on bringing about social justice.” ###