Scout Rangers assist former rebels to finish vocational course

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 17 Nov) – In a rare initiative, the Army’s elite Scout Rangers assisted 15 former rebels and 65 local villagers to complete Friday last week a 30-day masonry and welding vocational course in partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the local government unit of Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur.

A former NPA rebel demonstrates his welding skills after finishing a course under the TESDA initiated by the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion. Photo courtesy of 2nd SRB

As an elite fighting unit, the Scout Rangers rarely engages in community civic activities, pointed out 1Lt. Alan Wadsilang, civil military operations officer of the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion.

But Wadsilang explained that the unit took the opportunity to take part in the “whole government of approach” in addressing the communist insurgency.

In December last year, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Executive Order (EO) 70, which seeks to institute a “whole of government” approach in addressing communist insurgency.

Wadsilang said that the program was originally intended for the former rebels but many of the youth in the nearby communities have also expressed interest to avail of the program.

“At first, it was only for former rebels, but later many from the community joined. Mostly were out-of-school youths and some senior high school students,” he added.

The military officer lauded the local government unit of Sta. Cruz for its all-out support to the program. Sta. Cruz was a hotbed of communist insurgency in 1980s.

A former NPA rebel who finished a course on masonry under TESDA initiated by the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion. Photo courtesy of 2nd SRB

This vocational course, Wadsilang added, is part of the grassroots efforts to encourage New People’s Army (NPA) rebels to return to the fold of the law.

He said they are also planning to offer the same course for another batch of former rebels and community members next year.

Furthermore, Wadsilang disclosed that they have been conducting medical outreach programs and community dialogues even before EO 70 was signed.

To further sustain the campaign against communist insurgency, he said they are still in the process of creating a Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC) in the province.

Throughout the region, the Army’s 10th Infantry Division has credited the decline of armed encounters to the “whole of government approach.” (MindaNews)