The gradual balik-loobof former rebels brought hope to attain peace and ecotourism development as Akap-Kapatid Program launched in the region.

 Police Regional Office-6 initiated the pilot program of Akap-Kapatid Program in partnership with the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) with Philippine Army and other government stakeholders here in Western Visayas.

The program has two phases which is the short term that focuses on self-assessment, psychological program and confidence building while the long term focuses in the general welfare on how the participants, former rebels returns to the community living peacefully and sustainably.

Western Visayas region is enriched with booming ecotourism location. If insurgencies ceases in the region like in the province of Bohol, tourism will thrive that opens businesses and job opportunities for people.

During the third batch of Akap-Kapatid Program, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region VI Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Livino B. Duran together with PRO-6 Regional Director Rolando F. Miranda and the Department of Social Welfare Development (DSWD) Disaster Response and Management Chief Luna S. Moscoso delivered their messages during program.

There are 101 balik-loob beneficiaries that were from municipalities of Calinog, Iloilo and Tapaz, Capiz which were given lectures discussing self-awareness, stress management, anti-criminality, anti-drugs, criminal justice system, family and community relationship, coronavirus awareness and anti-terrorism law.

They were also given certificate of completion of the seminar programs they attended, seedlings for livelihood, monetary assistance, bikes, food packs, medicines and other supplies essentials for living especially in this coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Aside from these insights and tangible assistance prepared by the government, these rebel returnees live in the municipalities with potentially eco-tourism sites that will flourish if being developed and sustained.

In the municipality of Calinog, the proposed Jalaur mega-dam or Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project is an ongoing water reservoir construction that will supply water for agricultural land irrigation, household useand a potential center for economic growth in the region. It will also be the biggest dam outside Luzon Island.

The municipality of Tapaz opts to be the next thriving bamboo plantation with an almost 5000 hectares of land proposed to be planted with bamboo. The National Greening Program (NGP) of the DENR with its new family approach allowing families to establish plantations of bamboo and high value crops such as coffee or cacao that will serve as livelihood to people.

“Ceasing insurgencies in the country will let us take a ladder step up to peace and progress as we continue to give right services to people.AkapKapatid program brought light to unite people leaving lists of rebel in the community counts to zero,” said regional executive director Francisco E. Milla, Jr.