THE Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) has set aside P335 million worth of scholarship vouchers to allow Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters to avail of free training in various technical and vocational (tech-voc) courses.
Tesda Director General Joel Villanueva said the funding, allocated for the education of 11,000 MILF fighters and their family members as part of the Bangsamoro normalization program, was drawn from the agency’s 2015 budget.
“From that budget [P335 million], P202 million will cover the school-based training inclusive of training fee, assessment fee, tool kits, training allowance, while the remaining amount was allocated for the community-based training,” Villanueva told reporters during a lunch meeting on Wednesday.
He noted that the free training could provide returning MILF fighters opportunities to land jobs or start a small business.
“The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) has already identified the regional allocation [for this project]. This would be training for the training of [MILF] combatants for civilian life. The recipients of the said project will also be identified by the OPAPP and MILF leaders,” the Tesda chief said.
When asked why they allotted funds even if there is yet no Bangsamoro law, Villanueva explained that this was part of the government’s continuing commitment to the peace process.
“The normalization track should continue with or without the Bangsamoro law. This is an affirmative action on basic services in the Bangsamoro areas, especially in skills development,” he said.
“This is a way of empowering the Bangsamoro [people]to be productive members of the community and to the country,” Villanueva added.
This year, Tesda enrolled at least 1, 000 Bangsamoro fighters in various tech-voc courses.