STATE-RUN Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) has widened its lending program for former rebels to include former violent extremists.

In a statement, the state lender on Tuesday said the expanded lending program would also cover cooperatives and associations with former extremists as members.

It added that the program, now known as the ‘Balik-Loob’ lending program, is part of the National Government’s initiative to help former rebels and extremists and their families with the financing of small businesses and agricultural enterprises.

“Centered on our thrust of financial inclusion, we are offering financial assistance for the social re-integration of those who have voluntarily abandoned armed struggle to improve their livelihood,” LANDBANK President and Chief Executive Officer Cecilia C. Borromeo said.

The updated terms of the lending program now allow interested former rebels and extremists to apply for a loan as long as they will designate an immediate family member as a co-maker, the bank said.

Eligible borrowers should be at least 21 years old, do not have a pending legal case and has a government certification that verifies the identities of former rebels and extremists upon their return to the fold of the law.

The lending program launched in 2018 has provided financial lending assistance to different livelihood projects such as mom-and-pop stores, ready-to-wear retailing, fruits and vegetables retailing and curtain making.

It also covered agricultural enterprises such as crop protection, piggeries and poultry projects.

“Eligible borrowers also attended capacity building and skills trainings endorsed under the enhanced-comprehensive local reintegration program,” the state bank said.

The program provides more benefits based on the specific needs of former rebels and extremists and their families, such as financial assistance, housing, education, skill training, healthcare and legal assistance, among other aid it added. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave