A TOTAL of 300 Indigenous People (IPs) or Lumads will undergo training next month under the 10th Infantry Division (ID) to be part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
10th ID spokesperson Captain Rhyan Batchar said that the list of lumad candidates for soldiers was already completed and that they are waiting for the final listing before they will proceed to the training.
The AFP has given the aspiring government troopers special privileges to be able to qualify. Instead of taking AFP Service Aptitude Test (AFPSAT), which is the initial step before joining the armed forces, they waived it including the age and educational background for them to qualify.
The IP trainees underwent neuropsychological exam, medical exam and aptitude for the service interview to determine if they are physically and mentally fit to join the organization.
"If you are qualified and you are ready to serve the country then might as well join the Philippine Army," Batchar said.
The lumad trainees from Davao Region and Socsargen were referred to by brigade commanders in their areas.
They will undergo a six-month training. In the first three months, they will undertake basic military training while the next three months will be the jungle warfare training. Batchar added that they will undergo similar training with the regular soldiers.
After they graduate, he clarified that they are not Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) members but they will automatically be private soldiers with equal compensation and benefits similar to the regular soldiers.
"Most probably kung taga-saan siya, doon sila i-assign. We have seen the importance to recruit them to communicate with their leaders and community with their fellow tribes," Batchar said.
He said that the IP community has been clamoring for this long time ago and will be only realized this year.
He added that others failed to make the cut as they were given a 300 quota, a mix of male and female candidates.
He said that enlisting Lumads will help in preventing them from being recruited by the New People's Army.