2 ex-NPA rebels, 90 IPs enlist in Army

LABANGAN, Zamboanga del Sur -- Two former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and 90 Indigenous Peoples (IPs) are among 736 candidate soldiers who have become regular members of the Philippine Army, the military said Friday.

The newly-enlisted men belong to the Candidate Soldier Course Classes 506, 507, 519 and 520, who graduated on Thursday, Maj. Ronald Suscano, Army’s 1st Infantry Division information officer, told the Philippine News Agency.

They completed the four-month Basic Military Training at the 1st Division Training School (1DTS) here from Dec. 4, 2017 to April 5, 2018.

Lt. Col. Rufino de Leon, 1DTS commandant, said of the 736 new privates, 90 are IPs belonging to the Subanen tribe, two are former NPAs, and the others are Muslims and Christians from various ethnic groups.

De Leon said of the total, 29 percent and 28 percent completed their college and high school education, respectively, 23 percent reached college level, and 20 percent completed vocational courses certified by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

The age requirement for a candidate soldier applicant is 18 to 25 years old.

Maj. Gen. Roseller Murillo, commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, has expressed gratitude to the family, especially the parents of the graduates, who entrusted their sons to be part of military service.

In his speech as the graduation keynote speaker, Murillo asked for a moment of silence for candidate soldier Randell Berlin, who died while undergoing training.

He said the new soldiers will be given a short break to spend time with their respective families and share their experiences in training before they are deployed to the different field units under the administrative control of the 1st Infantry Division.

The graduation ceremony culminated in a Ceremonial Entrustment of Firearms that symbolizes the magnitude of responsibility, duty and authority vested upon the soldiers in protecting the Filipino people.

Timuay Jose Macareal, Multi-Sectoral Group Council member representing the IP sector, told the new soldiers to use the firearms entrusted to them to protect the Filipino people in attaining peace in Mindanao.

Macareal further said that the priority and the quota allocation given to the IPs manifest the government’s concern for the marginalized sector. (PNA) Photo: 1st Infantry