23IB Joins TESDA, Agnor Prov’l Government in Distribution of Tool Kits to 251 STEP Scholars

Beunavista, Agusan del Norte- Through the implementation of Executive Order No. 70 (EO 70), the Poverty Reduction, Livelihood and Employment Cluster (PRELC) led by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in Agusan del Norte (TESDA-ADN), in partnership with the Provincial Government of Agusan del Norte, the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Las Nieves and the 23rd Infantry (Masigasig) Battalion (23IB) awarded starter toolkits to the Special Training and Employment Program (STEP) scholars in an activity conducted at the Covered Court of Barangay Casiklan, Las Nieves town last April 22, 2021.

A total of two hundred fifty-one (251) STEP scholars coming from Barangays Durian and Casiklan received their toolkits during the awarding ceremony. The STEP scholars completed their skills training on Organic Hog Raising, Producing Organic Fertilizer, Carpentry and Bread Making conducted from November 2020 to March 2021 facilitated by TESDA-ADN.

The distribution of toolkits was led by Dir. Rey M. Cueva together with Provincial Administrator Gerry Joey S. Laurito who represented Gov. Dale B. Corvera, Nilo Pagente representing Rep. Lawrence “Law” H. Fortun of the 1st district of Agusan del Norte, Las Nieves Mayor Avelina S. Rosales, Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo, the Commanding Officer of 23IB, and Nancy C. De Guzman, the Acting Vocational School Administrator of the Northern Mindanao Schools of Fisheries (NMSF).

Ate Russel was among the STEP scholars who finished her skills training who thanked the government, particularly the TESDA for the support she received. With the knowledge she gained and the toolkits provided by TESDA, she will now have the opportunity to improve their economic lives. She also recognized the concerted efforts of the different agencies of the government, including the 23IB in bringing government programs and services to their barangay that was once affected by the terroristic activities of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).

“Ang training sa TESDA nga gipahingayon kanamo dako kaayo og tabang. Ako makapamatuod niini tungod kay ako usa ka estudyante sa Raise Organic Hog asa gitudluan kami sa sakto nga pag-atiman sa mga baby aron mudako og tarong ug mudaghan,” Ate Russel said.

It can be recalled that Barangays Durian and Casiklan were once affected by the terroristic activities of the CPP-NPA until it was cleared by the Community Support Team (CST) of the 23IB. The residents of said barangays recently cut their ties with the communist rebels.

Dir. Cueva congratulated the graduates for acquiring new skills that are useful nowadays for livelihood purposes.

“The aim of Special Training for Employment Program (STEP) is to help the less fortunate individuals especially the indigent families living in Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAs) to become productive citizens. We have been offering different skills training to far-flung barangays and sitios and also giving free starter toolkits and allowance for the trainees purposely to help the beneficiaries to start practicing and applying what they have learned and to find a stable job or build their own business for sustainable livelihood. We will be strengthening our commitment to provide the best services to the needy to end the unemployment problem in Agusan del Norte,” Dir. Cueva said.

Mayor Rosales gladly thanked the TESDA for helping the residents acquire the most necessary skills that are suitable in their area.

“Nowadays, it is very hard to find a job especially when you are not a degree holder but because of the community-based training offered and conducted by TESDA, many of the jobless constituents can enroll and acquire new skills and increase their chances to be employed and gain more than enough wage since they can apply anywhere due to their competencies. I am also glad that the courses conducted here in BarangayS Casiklan and Durian are more related to farming since the people here are having wide agricultural lands. The training will be very useful to the participants,” Mayor Rosales said.

For his part, Administrator Laurito assured the people of the two barangays of the continuing support of the provincial government.

“Rest assured that your Provincial Government will continue providing support in delivering services and the conduct of livelihood training in the community and to the mass supporters of the CPP-NPA who surrendered and returned to the folds of the law. Now, your livelihood skills are improved and you are provided with the needed toolkits. Use your skills, apply what you have learned, and use the toolkits to find work to support your daily needs. Show to the government your support by living peacefully away from trouble. Support the government programs for peace and development,” Laurito said.

Mr. Pajente, the representative of Cong. Fortun commended the convergence of efforts of TESDA, the LGUs, the barangay officials and the 23IB for the success of the training for the residents in the two (2) barangays who once were the victims of NPA atrocities.

“Convergence of efforts and the proper use of resources of all government agencies under the EO 70 brought huge impacts to the lives of the residents and other sectors in the GIDA areas of Agusan del Norte. Rest assured that the government is ready and exerting its efforts to provide necessities to uplift the community lifestyle of the people once affected by the CPP-NPA,” Pajente said.

Lt. Col. Paulo made an assurance that the 23IB will always support the activities and programs of the government in the two barangays.

“We have seen the efforts of TESDA and we are always here to support their activities and programs because we have the same objectives; to provide assistance and serve the people with the best efforts that we can offer. Many have suffered from the unemployment problems which turned them to be easily recruited by the Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) because the recruiters promised them abundance and progress once they will enter in the armed group and they thought that it is the only way they can get away from poverty. I really appreciate the TESDA for conducting different skills training which will open many opportunities to the marginalized individuals leading them to find greener pasture through the skills imparted to them which will also lead to the transformation and improvement of their living. May time comes that everyone’s lives will improve because that may be the solution of insurgency,” Paulo said.

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