ILIGAN CITY – There were no fancy dresses and no elaborate ceremony, but at least their matrimony is now legal.
Eight couples who were former New People’s Army rebels exchanged vows in a civil wedding ceremony at the municipal capitol of Leon B. Postigo, Zamboanga del Norte on Feb. 18, four days after Valentine’s Day.
They tied the knot after surrendering to the military’s 97th Infantry “Kalasaglahi” Battalion (97th IB) last year.
The newlywed couples were former members of the dismantled Communist-New People’s Army-Terrorist Cells “HQ-KALAW” Regional Operations Command and Main Regional Guerilla Unit (MRGU) of the Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee (WMRPC) of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front.
The 97th IB dismantled HQ KALAW last August.
Their wedding sponsors were Mayor Aidaroz M. Hambali, who also presided over the wedding ceremony, and Sindangan Mayor Rosendo Labadlabad, who provided food and drinks during the reception.
They also received gifts courtesy of Zamboanga del Norte Gov. Roberto Y. Uy.
“Malaki ang pasasalamat ko sa 97th IB at sa ibat-ibang ahensya ng gobyerno na hindi kami pinabayaan mula ng nag-surrender kami hanggang ngayon (I thank the 97th IB and government agencies who helped us since we surrendered up to now),” said “Larry,” one of the former rebels who married.
He thanked the 97th IB for facilitating their wedding as they are looking forward to a peaceful life, far from the life during their armed struggle against the government.
The wedding was also attended by their relatives, military, and civilian stakeholders.
Lt. Col. Manaros M. Boransing II, 97th IB commander, thanked the sponsors and stakeholders of his unit for their generosity that made the event possible.
“We are very thankful to our various stakeholders for their sincerity in helping our FRs not only by providing benefits and assistance from our government like the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) but for showing them that they are now part and well accepted by the society,” Boransing said.