MALAYBALAY CITY, Bukidnon — Thirty-eight (38) former New Peoples Army (NPA) rebels who were recently enlisted into the Philippine Army as soldiers received their Alternative Learning System (ALS) diploma in a graduation ceremony, arranged by Department of Education (DepEd) Division of Schools in Malaybalay, at the 4th Division Training School (4DTS), Camp Osito Bahian, here.
The graduates are from various ethnicity in Northern Mindanao and Caraga which include: Higaonon, Manobo, Talaandig, Banwaon, Umayamnon, Surigaonon, Mamanwa, and Cebuano. Fifteen (15) of them completed the elementary curriculum while 23 graduated from the high school program.
The 4th Infantry Division (4ID), Philippine Army, in compliance with the order of President Duterte, trained and enlisted the former NPA rebels who surrendered to the government. To ensure that they would satisfy the academic requirement for soldiery, 4ID sought the assistance of DepEd Region X by enrolling them into the ALS program.
In response, ALS instructors from DepEd held instructional sessions inside the military camp, even convening night classes to make sure the students would be able to take the Assessment and Evaluation (A&E) exam.
The 38 graduates are among the 110 ALS students who passed the A&E. The rest will be taking the same exam soon as they become academically prepared.
“Ang NPA ang hinungdan nganong wala mi kahuman ug eskwela, sulod sa 20 kapin ka tuig nga pagpangalagad nako sa NPA ilang giguba ang among kaugmaon. Dako ang among pagpasalamat sa gobyerno ilabi na kang Tatay Digong nga gitagaan mi ug chance nga masugid ug bag-ong panginabuhian. Bisag 34 nako proud ko nga finally nakadawat nako sa akong diploma, akong bahandi nga dile na makawat nako” an emotional Marila Taquin said on her speech.
(“The NPA is the reason why we have not finished our studies. For over 20 years that I have been serving the NPA, they ruined our future. We are very grateful to the government especially to tata Digong for providing us with an opportunity to make a new living. Even though I am 34 years old, I am proud that I have finally received my diploma.”)
Taquin is a former NPA Cadre, whose sister was murdered by the NPA three days after giving birth.
“Mao sa ubang gahunahuna ug apil ug suporta sa NPA, ayaw na, wa moy kaugmaon ug ensakto nga panginabuhian ug dadto mo mag-uban sa mga terorista, tiwasa inyong eskwela, mabuhi tag malinawon kay dunay gobyerno nga galantaw sa atoa” added Taquin who is the only female member of the graduating class.
(“As for others who are thinking of joining or supporting the NPA, don’t, you won’t have future and livelihood if you will go with the terrorists. Finish your studies, we will live peacefully because we have a government that looks after us.”)
Brigadier General Edgardo De Leon, Commander of Army’s 403rd Brigade, who delivered a message during the graduation ceremony said, “habang ang nagrerecruit ng estudyante ang mga komunistang kadre sa mga eskwelahan, ang gobyerno naman ay patuloy na magliligtas sa mga naligaw ng landas upang maibalik sila sa paaralan at makapagtapos ng kanilang kurso. Ang inyong pagtatapos sa araw na ito ang magsisilbing pruweba na ang pangako ng Pangulo na bagong buhay para sa mga rebeldeng nag surrender ay may katotohanan.”
In his message to the graduates, 4ID Commander Major General Franco Nemesio Gacal said, “Ang inyong pagsuko ay isang bagong simula. At ngayong araw ng inyong pagtatapos, hindi ko mapigilan ang aking lubos na pagkatuwa sa inyong tagumpay. Bilang inyong Division Commander, inaasahan ko na kayo ay magsisilbi ng tapat para itaguyod ang demokrasya at kapayapaan laban sa baluktot na prinsipyo ng mga komunistang NPA. Tumulong kayo sa paghikayat ng mga dati nyong kasamahan na magbalik-loob sa ating gobyerno para mamuhay ng mapayapa”.
Present also during the ceremony are representatives from the Provincial Local Government of Bukidnon, DepEd Bukidnon Division of Schools, ALS teachers and implementers, media, family and friends of the graduates, and trainors from the 4th Division Training School.