ISABELA, Basilan - Some 139 Abu Sayyaf bandits have returned to the fold of the law and will receive livelihood assistance from the government.
Under the Program Against Violence and Extremism (PAVE), the former bandits will get various assistance.
PAVE, initiated by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, is part of the government's efforts to reintegrate militants to mainstream society.
Part of the program is to provide sustainable livelihood to them through skills training courses offered by the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority.
Omar Khayam Dalagan, executive director of TESDA-ARMM, said they allocated P20,000 for each surrenderer that would include allowances and tool kits.
He said this is to ensure the surrenderer would attend to their training.
During Tuesday's launching of the program, former militant Ruben Cuevas asked for forgiveness for what he had done.
He was part of the Abu Sayyaf Group for 15 years under the leadership of Nurhassan Jamiri.
ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said the program was designed to bring eace in the region.
"Justice for all is peace for all," he said.
Capt. Ronald Odchimar, Civil Military Operations Officer of the 104th Brigade, was elated of the development.
"Masaya kami, kasi dati kalaban namin sila. Well in fact, marami sa mga kasamahan namin, napatay nila, natamaan nila. But then, 'yung gusto naming mangyari magkaroon ng kapayapaan sa probinsiya ng Basilan," he said. - report from Leizel Lacastesantos, ABS-CBN News