MAGPET, Cotabato (DWDD) – Soldiers of 19th Infantry “Commando” Battalion (19IB) sent three children of Alias Janjan, a former rebel, to Manobo Elementary School in Brgy Manobo, Magpet, Cotabato during the first day of class, last June 4, 2018.
The said children, two boys and a girl, were enrolled at an elementary school with the help of the Community Support Teams (CSTs) of Alpha Company of 19IB, who also bought them school supplies and uniforms.
Jane (not her true name), 14yrs old, the eldest of the three, is attending Grade 3 class. Her younger brothers, 12 yrs old and 10yrs old are attending Grade 5 and Grade 3 classes respectively.
“They are just like any other children of former NPA rebels that were left in the care of their mother when their father – Janjan joined the armed movement of NPA terrorists. They did not pursue their studies because they were transferring from one place to another.” Lt Prolen Bonacua, the Alpha Company Commander of 19IB said.
Alias Janjan surrendered to 19IB two months ago and was former team leader of Squad 2, Pulang Bagani Command (PBC) 3 of the NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC).
“Ang pagsulod sa armadong kalihukan ug pagka-angin sa kaugmaon sa akong mga anak, ang pinakadakong sayop nga akong gibuhat sa tibuok nakong kinabuhi. Respitado ko sa akong mga kauban kay tungod mayo akong pagdumala kanila. Apan, akong mga anak, wala nako maatiman. Wala nako damha ang paghikaw nako sa saktong edukasyon angay kanila. (Joining the NPA at the expense of my children’s future was the biggest mistake I have made in my whole life. I was a leader to my fellow rebels, but not to my three children. Unwittingly, I have already deprived them of their right to education)” Janjan said.
Alias Janjan brought one M16 rifle upon his surrender. He was among the bulk of NPA surrenderees during the early phase of 19IB’s campaign in Magpet, Cotabato.
“Janjan’s documents are already being processed as well as with the other surrenderees. They are entitled to receive financial and livelihood assistance through the Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).” Lieutenant Colonel Ehrlich Noel Paraso, Commanding Officer of 19IB said.
Meanwhile, Ms. Aneolyn Bargamento, Head of Manobo Elementary School stated that the attendance of their students dwindles when NPA enters the community and when encounter with government forces occur. She is grateful that soldiers’ CSTs are around their area because they feel secured and now school children are attending classes.
On the other hand, Major General Ronald Villanueva, Commander of Army’s 4th Infantry Division said that “4th Infantry Division deploys Community Support Program teams to conflict affected areas in order to assess and determine the issues in the barangay that will be relayed to the local government agencies and Chief Executives for it to be resolve in the level of barangay, municipal or provincial level. Moreover, I commend the initiative of 19IB in helping the family and children of our former rebel. For the NPA terrorists who are thinking to surrender and experience a life away from hunger and fear, the government has Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program that will assist you in your reintegration to the mainstream society.” 19IB Commando / MCAG