Former rebels turn 'alamid' coffee farmers

Posted at 07/03/2009 11:51 PM | Updated as of 07/03/2009 11:51 PM

TABUK CITY - Former communist rebels from the mountains of the Cordilleras are set to engage in the business of trading in the local variety of red rice and in harvesting healthy coffee from the droppings of palm civet, a furry cat-like creature locally known as alamid or musang.

Civet coffee is commonly cultured and sold not only in Kalinga and Apayao but also in the other Cordilleran provinces of Benguet and Mt. Province, particularly in Sagada town. It is also called motit coffee in the Cordillera or kape alamid in other areas of Luzon.

Former rebels underwent various livelihood skills training before receiving socio-economic assistance from the government primarily through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

After the first batch of 190 ex-ommunist rebels in Kalinga province late last April, a second batch of 27 former guerrillas early this week benefited in skills training on how to handle transactions in such products as red rice and coffee alamid or coffee musang, as well as handling other business ventures such as massage parlors and barber shops.

Also, last month, a group of 126 former rebels in neighboring Apayao province also got their share of P20,000 each in livelihood cash assistance after undergoing skills training courtesy of OPAPP, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and the respective provincial social welfare and development offices (PSWDOs) of various in Cordillera.

OPAPP Assistant Secretary Ma. Consuelo P. Cascolan, who represented Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Sec. Avelino I. Razon Jr. during the awarding ceremonies in Kalinga on June 30 and in Apayao on June 9, said the socio-economic awardees had been beneficiaries of the old amnesty program for communist rebel returnees.

Cascolan revealed that this is apart from the newly enhanced rebel reintegration program called the Social Integration Program (SIP), whereby ex-rebel beneficiaries get P20,000 in cash and a separate P50, 000 in kind through various livelihood assistance from the government.

"You are now entrepreneurs, or better yet, you are now recognized as peace-loving members of your respective communities as you return to the mainstream of society," Cascolan told the former rebels who underwent training in coffee farming and other livelihood production.