Former members of the New People’s Army (NPA), who surrendered to the government, are being trained to become soldiers under the 4th Division Training School (DTS) in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.
In a documentary produced by the 4th Infantry Division released on Facebook last December 26, the surrenderers will undergo intensive training under the government’s Integrated Territorial Defense System (ITDS).
The ITDS aims to address communist insurgency by complementing military operations with a holistic community support approach.
Candidate soldiers in the program are grateful that President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration has kept its promise of providing them a new life after leaving the communist group.
Aside from the military training, these former NPAs or even recruits, who are not former communist members, more importantly are being taught and trained to raise their love of country, love and respect for countrymen, love for freedom and human rights, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said.
One of the candidate soldiers in the program is 22-year old Reynaldo Gambota, a former NPA commander.
Gambota admitted being a runner, recruiter, and rally organizer for the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – NPA -National Democratic Front (NDF).
“One of the reasons why I got interested to join the NPA was to know the real reason why we experience hardships. Another reason is because my relatives on (my) mother’s side were NPA members,” said Gambota, who was exposed to the NPA’s influence since he was 13 years old.
However, he said he experienced greater hardships being an NPA member, which made him surrender.
“Rain or shine, night and day, we would walk and pass through different areas. If there was an operation/encounter, at times we would not eat for three days. It takes us a long time to find food. We did not even have a single peso as salary. Our visits to our community/families were limited,” Gambota said.
He denied the CPP-NPA-NDF’s allegation that they were forced by the military to surrender. “No one forced me to surrender. They did not even hurt me. I voluntarily surrendered to soldiers because I want a new life,” he said.
Gambota said that while he also undergoes hardship in training to become a soldier, he knows these will pay off.
“I can see a future here where I’ll be able to provide for my family. The hardships have something in return. In the NPA, you go through hardships until you die, without providing a better future for your family,” he said.