By Mike U. Crismundo
Camp Bancasi, Butuan City – With the objective of making livelihood and employment, and infrastructure development in the communities, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has organized former members of the Communist New People’s Army (NPA) into People’s Organization (POs).
The former NPA rebels, who recently yielded to field units of the Army’s 71st Infantry (Kaibigan) Battallion (71st IB), have formed associations that are now officially registered as POs with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
These newly organized associations are Barangay Gubatan Livelihood for Peace Association (BGLPA), Calabcab Motor Drivers Association (CAMODA) and Sangab Energetic Farmers Association (SEFA).
They were organized by the 71st IB Community Support Program (CSP) as Community Development Volunteers (CDVs) in Barangays Gubatan, Calabcab and Sangab, all in Maco Compostela Valley (ComVal) province, said First Lt. Jhocell D. Asis, chief of Civil Military Operation (CMO) of the 71st IB, in a statement sent to The Manila Bulletin on Sunday.
CSP is part of the AFP’s Development Support and Security Plan (DSSP) “Kapayapaan” which aims to attain a just and lasting peace with the active support of the community and partner stakeholders in bringing the government closer to the people and to eliminate the community from the communist NPA terrorist influence that will give way to the entry of investors and infrastructures development projects in the Area of Operations, the Army official said.
Asis said a majority of the 200 members of these new associations were members and supporters of NPA’s Underground Movement (UGMO).
On Thursday March 15 and Friday March 16, programs were conducted to recognize the newly organized associations wherein local officials and field units of the 71st IB, led by its commander Lt. Col. Esteveyn E. Ducusin, attended the oath taking ceremony of the officers and members of BGLPA, CAMODA and SEFAin the barangay gymnasiums of Gubatan, Calabcab and Sangab, all in Maco town of that same province, the 71st IB CMO officer said.
The highlight of the oath-taking program was a livelihood consultation conducted by the Medium Scale Industries Coordinated Action Program Foundation Incorporated (MASICAP), a non-government organization tapped by the DOLE to assist the 71st IB and CDVs in preparing the project proposal, Asis said.