BACOLOD City – Around 579 members of the Kapatiran para sa ProgresibongPanlipunan Inc. (Kapatiran) have received P50,000 each as livelihood assistancefrom the national government during a ceremony in Talisay City, Negros Occidentalon Friday. As part of the former rebels’ socio-economic reintegration, theLivelihood Settlement Grants provide each profiled member P50,000 to supportthe establishment and continuity of one’s livelihood. Colonel Inocencio Pasaporte, commander of the Philippine Army’s 303rdInfantry Brigade, said the release of the livelihood assistance to the formerrebels clearly manifests the government’s commitment to fulfill its peaceagreement with the group. The RPM-P/RPA-ABB, which signed a peace agreement with the governmenton Dec. 6, 2000, split into two – the TPG led by Veronica Tabara and StephenPaduano, and the Nilo dela Cruz Group. Only the TPG continued the process offinalizing a draft closure agreement with the government. He was joined by Tabara, who chairs the Kapatiran, in witnessing thedistribution of the livelihood grants with Galvez, Social Welfare undersecretaryRene Glen Paje and Defense undersecretary Cesar Yano.(With a report from PNA/PN) Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said the nationalgovernment has plans and programs for the organization after going through along and difficult journey toward peace. “Our government aims to give a better life for the members of theKapatiran,” he added. Paduano, former national commander of the RPA-ABB and now arepresentative of Abang Lingkod Party-list, urged the Kapatiran members tosustain the gains of the peace process. “It took us 23 years, and today is the first phase of the livelihoodassistance of the government. We cannot afford to lose this opportunity to showthe world that indeed, we can achieve lasting peace in the country,” Paduano saidin a statement released by the OPPAP. In Feb. 1996, breakaway members of the New People’s Army (NPA) NegrosRegional Party formed the RPM-P, and in April, the group announced theformation of the RPA as its military arm. The following year, the Nilo delaCruz-led ABB joined forces with the RPA. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Officeof the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) released a total of P30.65million in livelihood grants – of which P24.85 million went to 463 recipientsfrom Negros Occidental, and P5.8 million for the 116 members from the PanayIsland. The RPM-P/RPA-ABB TPG took on the name Kapatiran para sa ProgresibongPanlipunan Inc. as part of its institutional transformation. The recipients are former combatants of the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ngManggagawa-Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade(RPM-P/RPA/ABB) under the Tabara-Paduano Group (TPG) based in Negros Occidentaland Panay Island, which is finalizing the closure of its peace agreement withthe government. During their decommissioning in Capiz last September, the formercombatants also received immediate cash assistance of P25,000 each.