Twelve Former Rebels (FRs) couples who surrendered to 53rd Infantry (MATAPAT) Battalion said their vows and officially tied the knot in a wedding ceremony held yesterday night September 18 at 53rd IB Headquarters, Camp Sabido, Guipos, Zamboanga del Sur.
The newly weds belonged to the now-defunct Guerilla Front KARA, Main Regional Guerilla Unit (MRGU), and HQ “KALAW” of NPA terrorists’ Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee.
Guipos Mayor, who has jurisdiction over the town where the Battalion currently sits and MTF-ELCAC Chairperson Hon. Vicente P. Cajeta presided the mass wedding.
The ceremony was also sponsored by various civilian and military stakeholders that significantly supported the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) of the government.
Programs for Former Rebels are aligned with the mandates of Executive Order No. 70 signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte which institutionalizes the Whole of Nation approach mandating the creation of a Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC).
53rd IB Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera in his message thanked the sponsors for making the ceremony possible.
“I extend my utmost gratitude to our partners for making this mass wedding for our FRs possible and memorable,” said Lt. Col. Herrera.
“Not only do we assist them in processing their benefits under various government programs and initiatives, but we also show them that they are truly accepted in the society,” he added.
1st Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Gene Ponio, who officially represented the Commanding General of the Philippine Army Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, encouraged the newly weds to be responsible parents to their children.
“What’s more important than preparation is your relationship with one another. Problems just come and go; you can overcome everything if you support each other,” said Maj. Gen. Ponio.
Civilian and military stakeholders who’ve supported in making the wedding possible are SKH-Initiative, a non-government organization headed by Ms. Faye Reyes; 547th Engineer Battalion, 1st Field Artillery Battalion, and the Municipal Task Forces ELCAC of Guipos, Dumalinao, San Miguel, all of Zamboanga del Sur and Siayan, Zamboanga del Norte.