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Displaced Itogon residents offered jobs for the long haul

LONG-TERM OPPORTUNITIES. Over a thousand displaced residents avail of long-term livelihood opportunities and lower-priced commodities in Barangay Tuding, Itogon town offered by various government agencies on Wednesday (Oct. 24, 2018). (Photo by Liza T. Agoot)

ITOGON, Benguet — Various government agencies are now offering sustainable sources of livelihood to the displaced residents of Itogon town, due to the massive landslide that took the lives of hundreds of people here, mostly small-scale miners, last month.

The National Food Authority (NFA) in Benguet, for one, is encouraging the residents, especially in far-flung villages of this town, to sell NFA rice, so that lower-priced government rice will be accessible to the communities.

“They can open a ‘bigasang bayan’, or a community rice trading center, especially those who are in far-flung villages, so that they can sell the NFA rice,” NFA-Benguet Provincial Manager Cecilia Concubierta told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in a telephone interview on Friday.

Concubierta urged the locals to submit their proposals for the opening of “bigasang bayan” for assessment during the Itogon Economic Forum organized by the Economic Sectoral Committee of the Cordillera Regional Development Council on Wednesday.

The NFA was among the agencies that offered long-term livelihood aid to the Itogon residents during Wednesday’s economic forum, where over a thousand residents came to avail of the offers.

The NFA sold on that day 100 sacks of rice at PHP27 a kilo. Each family could buy up to five kilos each.

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) was also there to offer free skills training to interested residents.

TESDA-Benguet provincial director David Bungallon said about PHP2.5 million have been earmarked for the skills training of the displaced Itogon residents. He said TESDA has started its one-month training for shielded metal arc welding, electrical installation and maintenance, carpentry, masonry at the Itogon Training Center in Barangay Tuding. The second batch will start on Nov. 26, with 25 participants each course.

He added the customer service skills training, which was implemented by the Forest House Assessment and Training Center, was started on Oct. 10 with 60 participants.

Bungallon said TESDA will refer the trainees to partners and companies for employment, once they get their national certification that they can do their chosen jobs well.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) office in the Cordillera Administrative Region also held a job fair during the economic forum.

The forum’s information officer, Patrick Rillorta, offered to the residents 3,970 job vacancies, of which 2,280 were for overseas employment, and 1,690 for local employment.

Twelve companies and three manpower agencies offered the job vacancies. Fifty-four were hired-on-the-spot, of which 26 were for local employment and 28 for overseas jobs.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) also brought the “Diskwento Caravan,” were basic goods were sold by local partner, Tiongson Supermarket, at five to 10 percent discount.

The Department of Agriculture also set up a “TienDA” store and provided selling areas for various crops.

DTI-Cordillera regional director Myrna Pablo said Friday the event last Wednesday was an offshoot of President Rodrigo Duterte’s order for government agencies to converge and consolidate their efforts to aid the Itogon survivors.

“This is a result of the call from the President through Presidential Adviser (Francis) Tolentino for agencies with economic activities to be together and extend assistance,” Pablo said. “We are getting a complete profile of the residents, which will be the basis for a long-term assistance program,” Pablo said.

Also, at the event were the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Social Security System, Employment Compensation Commission, Occupational Safety and Health Center, and the Philippine Information Agency. (Liza Agoot/PNA)

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