Friday, March 11, 2016

Soldiers build schools in rebel-bastion town of Masbate
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

PIO V. CORPUS, Masbate, March 10 (PNA) -- Army Captain Jeric Yuson, 32, of Charlie Company’s 565th Engineering Battalion, and his men did not use guns but instead built a school in this rebel-infested town to help liberate the community not only from the bondage of insurgency but also from dearth of educational facilities.

Pio V. Corpus is a fourth-class municipality in the island-province of Masbate and can be reached in more than three hours' trip from Masbate City.

Yuson, a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy in 2007, was first assigned in a combat zone before being sent to a humanitarian mission in this town to build school classrooms for students in Buenasuerte Integrated School in this town.

He said that while constructing a one-unit building with two classrooms, they were able to forge good relationship with the members of the community though some were less cooperative.

“We’re happy that despite the challenges, we were able to finish the construction of school classrooms intended for the students before the implementation of K to 12 in June,” the Army official said.

A similar project was also built in Barangay Tanque here for the Tanque National High School by another Army team led by Army Capt. Rodolfo Reofrir of the Alpha Company, 565th Engineering Battalion.

The materials used for the construction of the two-room school buildings were provided by the Masbate Gold Project based Aroroy, Masbate.

Vgemele Mate, DepEd Masbate Division assistant superintendent, lauded the humanitarian efforts shown by the soldiers.

“I couldn’t imagine seeing a young good-looking soldier mixing gravel, sand and cement as well as constructing and painting a school building. This is truly a labor of love. Indeed, education is everybody’s business. The turnover is timely because the incoming Grade 7 will be occupying these classrooms in June,” Mate said.

She said the government is doing its best in preparation for the opening of the Senior High School program.

“These soldiers sacrifice their lives and leave their family to build schools. So take care of the school built by our soldiers and the MGP, which provided the materials. Imagine, out of 115 public high schools in Masbate, our town was chosen as a recipient of this humble project,” the DepEd official said.

Brigadier Gen. Joselito Kakilala, Armed Forces of the Philippines-Civil Relations Services chief, said the construction of public school buildings in this town will be an effective means to free it from insurgency and liberate its residents from the bondage of poverty.

“Education is a powerful tool and weapon to change the community from the bondage of ignorance and of poverty. Your soldiers are here to assist you in whatever way we can for our countrymen,” he said.

During the turnover ceremony about a week ago, however, communist guerrillas attacked the convoy of vehicles en route back to Masbate City.

The rebels attacked the two Nissan pick-up vehicles and a Toyota Hilux patrol car wherein Police Supt. Brian Castillo was one of the passengers going back to the Masbate Police Provincial Office after attending the turn-over ceremony of the school building in Barangay Buenasuerte in this town.

Castillo’s group almost hit an improvised explosive device that exploded along the national highway of Barangay Mintac, within a quarry area in Cataingan, Masbate, resulting in damages to the Hilux patrol car.

No reported injury among the police troopers was reported and its members were safely evacuated to the 5th Maneuver Platoon headquarters at Barangay Sto. Niño, Cataingan town.

Immediately after the attack, soldiers from the 903rd Infantry Brigade conducted pursuit operation against the government’s enemy but failed to catch up with the rebels. (PNA) FFC/FGS/RBB/CBD