Soldiers join NPA returnees in Lenten ‘pabasa’
LUCENA CITY — Army soldiers and former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels observed the Holy Week in a joint “pabasa,” a public chanting of verses depicting the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“I’ve encouraged camp commanders to initiate a joint pabasa with soldiers and rebel returnees for the much needed spiritual exercise to help each other in our common quest for peace,” Maj. Gen. Rhoderick Parayno, commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division based in Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal, said on Tuesday.
Parayno said the Lenten activity aimed to further strengthen the resolve of both former armed protagonists to work together for peace to prevail in the country.
The pabasa is done during the Holy Week, in which two groups of Catholic faithful take turns in reading the “Pasyong Mahal,” which narrates the Gospel account of Christ’s suffering.
The reading or chanting of the Pasyon is carried out day and night, and usually ends before the death of Jesus Christ at 3 p.m. on Good Friday.
But Parayno said that even if the soldiers wanted to observe the Holy Week by staying in their barracks, they would still be on alert for any rebel attack.
“If there are reported sightings, we will be forced to conduct an operation to prevent their offensives,” he said.
According to Parayno, more than 30 former rebels operating in Southern Tagalog and Southwestern Tagalog regions have surrendered to the government since January.
“Most of them have been living inside our camps with their respective families,” he said.
They were beneficiaries of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), the reintegration program of the government.
In E-CLIP, rebels returning to the government fold may avail themselves of livelihood, medical, legal, educational and housing assistance.
Expecting that more NPA rebels would surrender, Parayno said they would soon build a “halfway house” somewhere in Quezon province. —Delfin Mallari Jr.
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