BUENAVISTA, Agusan del Norte – Soldiers observe the 2020 Nutrition Month by feeding children of former rebels at the 23IB Headquarters in Jamboree Site, Purok 6, Barangay Alubihid, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte, July 5, 2020.
The troops of 23rd Infantry (Masigasig) Battalion conducted a Feeding Activity in support of the 46th National Nutrition Month Celebration 2020 that carries the theme: “Batang Pinoy, SANA TALL… Iwas Stunting, SAMA ALL! Iwas ALL din sa COVID-19!” A total of 27 children of former rebels (FRs) enjoyed hot porridge with egg, bread and a glass of juice served by 23rd IB troopers.
The activity was done with the support of the group Batang Masigasig POINTY and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the area. According to the study conducted by the DSWD, Five of the 27 children were considered severely underweight (SUW). With the said findings, 23rd IB Commander Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo decided to conduct a regular feeding program for the children of FRs inside the headquarters to ensure monitoring of their health status.
The initiative of the 23IB’s Commander also aimed to ensure that the children of the FRs will be protected from sickness and the threats of the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19). Furthermore, the conduct of the regular feeding program is timely and appropriate as the children of the FRs need immediate attention in terms of their nutritional needs in time with the continuing threat of the pandemic.
The activity last Sunday brought joy to the children and to the FRs because they have qnever experienced such care when they were still in the hands of the Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs). Alias “Osang,” one of the mothers who joined the activity, expressed her gratitude to the government and the 23IB for attending to the nutritional needs of their children.
“Katong panahon nga naa pa ko sa kalihukan (NPA), dili gyod nako maatiman ang akong mga anak ug dili nako sila mahatagan ug insaktong pagkaon kay dili man me hatagan ug sweldo sa among mga komander. Among gi byaan ug napasagdan ang among pamilya ug talagsa lang gani me maka duaw sa ila. Wala pa sad sukad maka pahigayon ug sama ani nga aktibidad ang among mga kanhing komander kay wala man silay labot kung unsa na ang gidangatan sa pamilya sa ilang mga sakop. Dako gyod akong pasalamat sakasundaluhan sa ilang maayong pagtagad sa amo ug tungod sa ilang pagtabang, nahibaloan namo nga dili na diay himsog ang among mga anak. Wala gyod ko nag mahay nga mibalik ko sa sabakan sa gobyerno kay nakabaton na ko ug hapsay nga kinabuhi ug wala gyod ko nila pasagdi kauban sa akong pamilya,” Osang said.
Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Paulo condemned the CNTs’ continued acts of injustice to the children of their combatants. “As the CNTs take away the parents to fight for their useless ideology, many children suffer hunger and malnutrition due to the lack of food.
The false revolution of the CNTs force thousands of Filipino children, especially in the countryside, to live through hunger and fall into the fangs of malnourishment and diseases because they no longer have parents to attend to their daily food needs,” Paulo said. Being vulnerable, Paulo emphasized that the children and the youth must be prioritized, not only during the observance of Nutrition Month but as they grow up.
“This simple activity is wholeheartedly conducted for the children as we always believe that the youth is the hope of our nation. They must be taken care of and be guided properly so that they will be transformed into peace-loving individuals who will soon become great leaders that will contribute to nation-building,” Paulo said.
He also reiterated his call to the remaining CNTs to surrender and go back to their families, especially their children. “We are always sincere in giving favorable treatment for the well-being of the FRs who chose to leave the armed struggle and live peacefully with their families because we do not consider them as our enemies anymore.
The army specifically the troops of 23IB and the FRs are now united and working as a team with a heart and mind having the same goal of solving insurgency,” Paulo said.