A total of 40 former members of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) from Basilan toured the halls of the House of Representatives on Thursday as part of a reintegration program for former extremists who wish to live a normal life, Deputy Speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman said.
He said the former ASG members are part of the latest batch of beneficiaries of the Advancing and Sustaining Good Governance and Community Action Toward Resilience and Empowerment (AS2G-CARE) launched in June this year.
The program is implemented by the Balay Mindanao Foundation Inc. (BMFI) in collaboration with local government officials in Basilan.
In particular, the House tour is part of the Basilan Farmers Exposure Program that aims to teach these returnees farming techniques as a source of livelihood. They are bound for Baguio, Benguet, Pangasinan and Bulacan to study best practices for farming, he said.
“Lahat sila ay ngayon lang makakarating ng Maynila o makakatuntong sa mga lugar tulad ng Kongreso. We are showing them an alternative way of life, na meron silang kinabukasan kapag binitawan nila ang kanilang mga armas,” Hataman said.
“We give them a reason to give up a life of fighting and turn to farming,” said the former ARMM governor.
“And it is good that they are exposed to a lot of places. They can start to dream, learn new things, and want their lives to be productive,” Hataman added.