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NCIP to new soldiers in Abra: Use firearms to defend peace, democracy

BAAY-LICUAN, Abra, Feb. 21(PIA) --The firearms symbolize the role of the soldiers in the protection of human rights and the civilian supremacy over the military. That the firearms are used only to defend democracy and peace in the country and not to harm the people. 

Atty. Russell A. Bragas, the provincial head of the National Commission of the Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in Abra  stressed this  to the  43 newly commissioned soldiers with the rank of Private who  took their oath of office and were issued their service firearms at the  41st Infantry Battalion Headquarters  here  last  February 13.

 “As soldiers you are no longer ordinary citizens, nor ordinary employees of the government of our country.  You are one of a kind. You are entrusted with firearms something that the government do not entrust to the majority of the government workers. You are therefore entrusted with special and different kind of power, authority and responsibility. You can make a change. You can help your parents, neighbors, community and the indigenous peoples in Abra. The trust given to you by our government is a different kind of trust and responsibility. So please value this,”  said Bragas who led  the ceremonial entrustment of firearms and the guest speaker.

Most of the new soldiers are natives of the Cordillera Region with a total of 19 from Abra; 13 from Kalinga;  five  from Apayao and four  from Mt. Province.  The otrhers are from Isabela and Ilocos Sur. 

Lt. Col. Noel T. Baluyan, Commanding Officer of the 41st IB,  said  the newly armed-soldiers are expected to be assigned to the companies of the 41st IB operating in the upland municipalities of the province of Abra. The soldiers will help in the implementation of the Bayanihan activities, the new campaign plan of the Armed Forces of the Philippines dubbed as Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan.

M/Sgt Rodrigo Domingo of the 41st IB administered the  oath  where the soldiers swore to accept their responsibility and their truthfulness and loyalty to the Philippine Flag and the Constitution of the Republic. The soldiers also swore to preserve and protect human rights of every Filipino as they are the instruments of peace.

 Vice Mayor Aunnielyn Castillo and Fr. Louie Tungpalan, parish priest of Licuan-Baay also graced the affair.

Meanwhile, the 21st ‘Invincible’ Infantry Battalion reported  an encounter on February 16 between government troops and members of the New People’s Army at Sitio Agamaan, Barangay Wagud of Pinukpuk in Kalinga.

Lt. Colonel Felix Benitez, 21st IB Commanding Officer said the government troops recovered from the encounter site one laptop, three 2-way handheld radio, improvised explosive devises and hand grenades.There were reports that several communist rebels are killed with others wounded during the incident, but this he said has yet to be confirmed. No casualty  was reported from the operating troops.

He said  a team was ordered to operate in the area after receiving reports that a number of NPA were seen in their ‘temporary encampment’ in Sitio Agamaan and are conducting extortion activities among the civilians in the area.

According to Benitez, several communities are still being tormented by communist insurgents with their extortion activities especially in the far flung areas. Though some civilians are providing reports, these he said are limited considering the threat they could be receiving from the NPA. The army, he said, understands this, but it would still be helpful if the people continue to provide information to the government.

Their (NPA) fight has now become senseless and many rebels are now turning into bandits conducting many atrocities among the poor populace which should be stopped, the Commanding Officer said.
By Maritess B. Beñas & Gigi Dumallig
Tuesday 21st of February 2012


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