Philippine Army and DepEd Launches Literacy Program for IP Soldiers and Former Rebels

BUENAVISTA, Agusan del Norte – 15 Enlisted Personnel under the 23rd Infantry (Masigasig) Battalion who are members of the Indigenous Peoples (IP) and 38 Former Rebels (FRs) graduated from the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program facilitated by the Department of Education Division of Butuan City on July 26, 2022 at Event’s Center, SM City, Butuan City.

The Army ALS learners, composed of Indigenous Peoples (IP), were enlisted into the regular force through Special Enlistment as part of the government’s support to IP who are most vulnerable to the Communist Terrorist Group’s (CTG) recruitment and exploitation.

Majority of the recruited members of the CTG were not able to finish their studies, making them very vulnerable to radicalization and violent extremism. The CTG exploits those people who lack education especially in far flung areas convincing them to join the NPA since it would not be very difficult for them to raise issues and propaganda to influence, convince and organize them against the government.

“Ang NPA ang hinungdan nganong wala mi kahuman ug eskwela. Sulod sa pila ka tuig nga pagpangalagad nako sa NPA ilang giguba ang among kaugmaon. Dako among pagpasalamat sa gobyerno nga gin tagaan mi ug chance nga masugod ug bag-ong panginabuhi,” said Inday Binongkasan, who is the oldest graduate at 54.

The ALS Program was introduced to FRs at the Masigasig Happy Homes as part of their preparation before going back to their community, knowing that the main reason for their recruitment by the NPA is their lack of education.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey P Balingao, the newly installed Commanding Officer of 23IB congratulated the IP Soldiers and FRs for completing the ALS- DepEd program. He said, “we are happy that our soldiers and FRs hurdled the process of undergoing the program that will be to their best interest in continuing their military service and serves as their accomplishment. We also laud the efforts of the ALS teachers who patiently taught them and helped them complete the program. More than anything else, it’s their sacrifices that realized the success of our soldiers and FRs on this momentous day.”

After having successfully undergone this program, all they can think of is to move forward and become productive and responsible citizens. Many years ago, most of these graduates were in the dark and holding weapons, but now they are holding their graduation certificates onward to a better and brighter beginning.

Despite this feat achieved by the government, the 23IB will unceasingly pursue the remaining members of the communist groups who were forced in the hinterland boundaries of the province, in the interest of peace and justice to our nation.

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