Thirty-eight former rebels graduated from Alternative Learning System (ALS) last Friday in Northern Mindanao.
ALS focal person Rey Butch Mahinay of Department of Education (DepEd) Region X led the awarding of diploma to the 38 former members of the New People’s Army who were recently enlisted into the Philippine Army as soldiers.
The graduation ceremony, arranged by DepEd Division of Schools in Malaybalay, was held at the 4th Division Training School (4DTS) in Camp Osito Bahian, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.
Capt Ryan Layug, the 403rd Infantry Brigade civil-military operations officer, said the 38 ALS graduates are of various ethnic groups in Northern Mindanao and Caraga regions that include Higaonon, Manobo, Talaandig, Banwaon, Umayamnon, Surigaonon, Mamanwa and Cebuano.
Layug said 23 graduated high school program while 15 completed the elementary curriculum.
The Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division, in compliance to the order of President Rodrigo Duterte, trained and enlisted the former rebels who surrendered to the government.
To ensure that they would satisfy the academic requirement for soldiery, he said the 4ID sought the assistance of DepEd Region X by enrolling them into the ALS program.
In response, DepEd assigned ALS instructors to conduct classes 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.
“The rebels were the reason why we did not able to finish our schooling. In my 20 years with them, they destroyed my future,” Marila Taquin, the only female member of the graduating class, said in vernacular during her speech. “We are very thankful to the government, especially to President Rodrigo Duterte, who gave us the chance for a better future.”
“I am proud that even I’m already 34, I received my diploma, a treasure nobody can steal from me.”
Taquin is a former NPA amazon whose sister was murdered by the rebels three days after giving birth.
“Nothing can compare to our happiness,” said Jupiter Macrojon, who at 43 is the oldest graduate.
Brig. Gen. Edgardo de Leon, commander of Army’s 403rd IB based in Bukidnon, said the government will continue to save those who were strayed so they return to school and have a better future.