By Martin Sadongdong
Hope springs eternal for 38 former communist rebels who have graduated from alternative learning system (ALS) program and enlisted themselves in the Philippine Army in Bukidnon province.
Captain Ryan Layug, civil-military officer of the Army’s 403rd Infantry (Peacemaker) Brigade (403ID), 4th Infantry Division (4ID), said the 38 former rebels received their ALS diploma in a ceremony held at the 4th Division Training School (4DTS), Camp Osito Bahian in Malaybalay City on Friday.
Layug said the 38 ALS graduates are former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) of various ethnicity in Northern Mindanao and Caraga which include Higaonon, Manobo, Talaandig, Banwaon, Umayamnon, Surigaonon, Mamanwa and Cebuano.
He said 15 of them completed the elementary curriculum while 23 graduated from the high school program.
“The 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, in compliance to the order of President Duterte, trained and enlisted the former NPA rebels who surrendered to the government,” Layug said.
“To ensure that they would satisfy the academic requirement for soldiery, the 4ID sought the assistance of DepEd (Department of Education) Region X by enrolling them into the Alternative Learning System (ALS) program,” he added.
In response, Layug said ALS instructors from DepEd Region 10 held instructional sessions inside the military camp, even convening night classes to make sure the students would be able to take the ALS Assessment and Evaluation (A&E) exam.
The 38 graduates are among the 110 ALS students who passed the A&E exam, Layug said.
Among the graduates is Marila Taquin, a former NPA cadre, who quit his group after her sister was allegedly killed by the NPA. She was the lone female graduate in the class.
Taquin, in her native language, thanked the government for the opportunity to have a new shot at life.
Major General Franco Nemesio Gacal, 4ID commander, praised the graduates after surrendering to authorities and reintegrating themselves in the community.
“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 niyong kasamahan na magbalik-loob sa ating gobyerno para mamuhay ng mapayapa,” Gacal told the graduates.