Kagitingan Brigade Celebrates Founding Anniversary with Former Rebels


 City of Mati, Davao Oriental — It is no ordinary founding anniversary celebration for the 701st Infantry (Kagitingan) Brigade of the Philippine Army here. Aside from the usual sights of top brass of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and top local government officials gracing the annual occasion, this year’s celebration is truly a remarkable one as it celebrates a “meaningful victory” in the struggle for peace over violent conflict.

Sitting quietly beside the audience which is composed of invited local government employees and officials and civil society and youth groups, the former Communist rebels who now called themselves as “the new NPA” or the “New Peace Advocates” have joined Saturday’s founding anniversary celebration of the biggest military camp in Davao Oriental. A number of them would want to become government soldiers.

Military officials, invited local government employees and officials, and civil society and youth groups joined Saturday’s founding anniversary celebration of the biggest military camp in Davao Oriental.

Right across the headquarters of the military’s 701st Infantry Brigade here stands a sprawling halfway house called a “Happy Home” which is the new beehive of the Communist rebels wishing to embrace the fold of law. The “Happy Home” program has already enticed more than a hundred Communist rebels to leave the bloody decades-old armed struggle against the government in exchange for a huge financial assistance and a host of other benefits among them a free education and livelihood training.

“I commend the brigade for promoting peace in your communities in your area. And I commend you for making these communities self-sufficient. Really your theme ‘Creating Conflict-Resilient Communities through a Sustainable Partnership’ is a clearest expression of the accomplishments of your brigade,” says Major General Angelito De Leon, commander of the Philippine Army’s 7thInfantry Division who was guest of honor and speaker at the 9thReactivation Anniversary of the 701st Infantry Brigade based in the City of Mati.

Major General Angelito De Leon, commander of the Philippine Army’s 7thInfantry Division who was guest of honor and speaker at the 9thReactivation Anniversary of the 701st Infantry Brigade based in the City of Mati.

“This is a shining example of how peace and order should be maintained… Meron po kayo ditong Happy Home for former rebels. This is the first and only of its kind in the whole nation. It has been a source of inspiration as it helps former rebels in the transition toward a civilian life. I am proud of you, men and women of the 701st Brigade in the role you have been playing in giving assistance to these communities. I was also informed that you have introduced new innovations inside the Happy Home which centers on agriculture and farming considering that most of the former rebels are farmers. I know that this will help them a lot. Dito natin nakikita ang senseridad ng mga kasundalohan ng 701stBrigade. The future holds something bigger for us, sa Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley at ilan pang nasasakupan ng 701stBrigade. Nakikita ko ang determinasyon ng ating mga local na opisyal at iba pang mga stakeholders ng nakipagtulungan sa ating mga kasundalohan. At buo ang aking paniniwala na lahat ng ating mga haharaping pagsubok ay malalampasan natin. Ipagpatuloy lang po natin ang ating pagkakaisa, pagtutulungan at tiwala sa isa’t isa,” says Major Gen. De Leon.

MGEN De Leon presents medals to soldier awardees.

“This is our commitment to the goal of peace as the people of Davao Oriental are earnestly longing for an end to violent conflict,” says Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang during his speech. “Our program, a soft approach, although time-consuming, strikes both the heart and head of these people. This approach is meant to show the other side of governance to the rebels like compassion, understanding and patience rather than running after them in offensives. The Happy Home program is a worthy vision, it is the price we in the government are willing to pay for peace and human development in our time. Through my flagship Serbisyo Caravan program, we put a premium on social services, linking the establishment of roads, bridges, elementary and high schools, barangay health stations and livelihood programs to the fight against the insurgency,” says Governor Dayanghirang.

Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang receives an award from the 701st Brigade, Philippine Army for his huge contribution and for being an active partner of the Philippine Army’s in creating peaceful communities.

The 701st Brigade covers the provinces of Davao Oriental, some towns of the Compostela Valley Province like the New Bataan, Maragusan, Pantukan and the town of Lingig of Surigao del Sur. “For the last seven months, the brigade pursued the Kalinaw og Kalambuan sa Katawhan para sa Davao Oriental at Compostela Valley campaign. The brigade’s KKK campaign is actually a revolution to emancipate the people of Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley from fear of the CPP-NPA. It is a revolution against poverty, underdevelopment, the lack of access to education, information and economic opportunities, among others,” says Col. Reuben Basiao, commander of the 701st Brigade.

Col. Reuben Basiao, commander of the 701st Brigade

“The narrative of a much-improved security situation in the brigade’s area of responsibility could not be done solely by the brigade and our units. This is a result of converging interests of various security stakeholders. And this is actually the rationale of today’s celebration. Today, the local government units, the local government agencies, the civil society and other stakeholders in Davao Oriental are working together to deliver the different poverty alleviation programs to the people and communities of Davao Oriental especially those located in the geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas. These synchronized program addresses the primary and secondary issues that give rise to insurgency,” says Col. Basiao.


“Our important role as defenders of this nation is never more felt than now as we go through the various threats to our national security,” says Major General De Leon.

For Major General Noel Clement, commander of the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division, “In the whole of the Davao Region, Davao Oriental is among the areas where there is an advanced stage of local integration. In Davao Oriental, you can actually feel the strong support of the local government units and they are very sincere in coming up with more programs to ensure our rebel returnees will go back to the mainstream society. I am very thankful for the local government’s very active participation. We are looking forward to coming up with more programs so that we can actually encourage more rebels to come down and start working with us in the government.”

Governor Nelson Dayanghirang sits with MGEN Noel Clement and BGEN Bienvenido Datuin

For Brig. Gen. Bienvenido Datuin, assistant commander of the 10thInfantry Division, the 701st brigade “is the best brigade not only of the Eastern Mindanao Command but of the whole Philippine Army! Masasabi natin na si Col. Basiao has really done a great job over the last eight months. This is the first time that I am back here. Tuloy-tuloy yung ginagawa nilang sinimulan natin. This is a continuation of the Peace and Development Outreach Program.”

Governor Nelson Dayanghirang says he “want my people to join the journey of peace. We will reap the fruits of peace in the future. Let us make space for men, women and children to live their lives in peace, in abundance, in faith. We will continue to create opportunities and strategies to achieve the best for our people. By Ferdinand Zuasola



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