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Caraga police as ‘mentors’ of elementary schoolchildren

October 22, 2020 - Thursday 10:10 AM by PNA

Article Banner Image COMBATANT MENTOR. A police officer of the 2nd Surigao del Norte Provincial Mobile Force Company puts away his high-powered firearm to mentor the elementary schoolchildren in Sitio Tigasi, Barangay Dugsangon in Bacuag, Surigao del Norte on Oct. 18, 2020. The pioneering initiative--dubbed as 'combatant mentors' project--is being mulled for possible adoption among all police units in the entire Caraga Region. (Photo courtesy of PRO-13 Information Office)

BUTUAN CITY–The Police Regional Office in Caraga (PRO-13) is looking at the widespread adoption of the "combatant mentors" concept, in which police units involved in anti-insurgency operations would also deliver educational support for underprivileged kids in areas the communist New People's Army (NPA) are known to operate.

This was according to Brig. Gen. Romeo M. Caramat Jr., PRO-13 director, who lauded the 2nd Surigao del Norte Provincial Mobile Force Company (2SDNPMFC) for pioneering the "combatant mentors" initiative in Surigao del Norte.

“Through the conduct of the ‘combatant mentors’ project, the police force in Caraga will help the teachers and parents in mentoring and educating the children, especially those who are living in the mountains,” Caramat said in a statement Wednesday.

Caramat said the initiative would not only intensify the police's "anti-criminality and anti-insurgency campaign" but also focus on helping educate underprivileged children in far-flung areas and "spare them from the deceptive works of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG)".

Caramat noted that the NPA's primary targets for recruitment "are the vulnerable sectors, which include the children, the poor, and the underprivileged".

According to Capt. Dorothy M. Tumulak, PRo-13 public information officer, the 2SDNPMFC launched the “combatant mentors” project recently after witnessing the situation of schoolchildren in a hinterland village in Bacuag, Surigao del Norte.

“The 2SDNPMFC were in a combat mission in the hinterlands of Bacuag, Surigao del Norte during the second week of this month when they discovered the problem of the school children in a remote community. They had the difficulty of going through their lessons,” Tumulak told the Philippine News Agency Wednesday.

Upon their return to their headquarters, she said the officers and personnel of 2SDNPMFC decided to draw up a plan to help the schoolchildren in Sitio Sitio Tigasi, Barangay Dugsangon.

“They decided to go back to Sitio Tigasi and conducted mentoring among the elementary school children in the area,” Tumulak said.

Tumulak said the 2SDNPMFC, headed by Lt. Col. Anthony Jess Punzalan, is based in Bacuag town and covers most of the town’s remote villages.

She said the police officers also found out that children were having difficulty answering their modules as their working parents had no time to guide them on their lessons.

In addition, most of the parents do not know how to read and write, she added.

Tumulak said the Caramat and other top PRO-13 officials are now studying the adoption of the “combatant mentors” concept for possible implementation in other areas in Caraga.

Bacuag is a 5th class town in Surigao del Norte, which, according to the 2015 census, has a population of 14,486. (PNA)