CAMP CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal – Another state university reached out to the Army for assistance in bringing their stranded “iskolar ng bayan” home on Wednesday.

The 2-day joint activity between the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division and Southern Luzon State University in Lucban, Quezon resulted to the much awaited reunion between 81 students and their worrisome parents.

According to Lieutenant Colonel Jesus Diocton, Commanding Officer of the 1st Infantry Battalion stationed at Tayabas City, the humanitarian mission was a welcome development for his soldiers who have either ceased from conducting offensive operations or have been manning the quarantine control points in his area of operations.

He added that similar to what the soldiers did with UPLB, “our trucks and drivers will be tapped to transport students to different pre-identified drop-off points following the strict compliance to DOH protocols such as social distancing and thorough check-up by health professionals for COVID symptoms.”

Col Alex Rillera, Commander of the 202nd Infantry Brigade which has operational jurisdiction over CALABARZON, said that his “soldiers are always willing and ready to respond to the needs of the community, including the state universities, which are our partners in molding the youth to become responsible and law-abiding citizens upon whose shoulders the future of our nation depend.”

“Your soldiers are one with SLSU’s administration and students in calling for calm, unity and cooperation amidst the current adversity which our country and people are currently facing,” assured Col Rillera while reaffirming their “commitment to serve the people and secure this part of our land.”

Judith Jorvina, one of the student-beneficiaries of the transportation assistance program, expressed her appreciation to the soldiers and SLSU for “moving heaven and earth in order for us to be reunited with our families.”

According to the military, each military vehicle has a representative from SLSU’s administration during the course of the humanitarian mission in line with the military’s intent of putting premium to the safety of the students.

Among the transport protocols that were put in place by SLSU was to ensure that the families are informed of their children’s travel and requires them to be at the pick-up points to receive the students in compliance to the hand-over procedures that they crafted together with the Army.

For his part, Major General Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr, Commander of 2ID, said that such undertaking is one of his unit’s priority support activities to the implementation of the quarantine procedures.

“When the quarantine’s guidelines were released, we knew right away that there is a possibility of students being stranded,” said Maj Gen Burgos while adding that given the scenario, he “instructed my units to put their vehicles on standby and make them readily available to citizens who will be needing help, particularly the students.”

He highlighted that “military vehicles are not only utilized for war but also as peacetime and disaster response equipment which benefit not only the soldiers but also the people whom we have sworn to serve.”

Recently, soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division showcased their ingenuity when they developed and deployed recycled drums as “Portable Hand Wash Stations” to different Quarantine Control Points or QCPs on Thursday.

The innovation now serves as a communications tool to educate passersby on the importance of personal hygiene to defeat the deadly virus plaguing the world through witty printed slogans while its “hands-free” feature prevents the users from reacquiring bacteria or virus immediately after washing their hands.

As of the moment, 1,803 soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division are performing support operations to health care professionals and their PNP counterparts who are manning 208 Quarantine Control Points across Southern Tagalog.