Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Army joins IP month commemoration in remote Agusan Norte village

BUENAVISTA, Agusan del Norte
– The troopers of 23rd Infantry “Masigasig” Battalion expressed solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in the province of Agusan del Norte in the commemoration of this year’s IP month and the celebration of the 23rd anniversary of the enactment into law of the Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997 with the theme "Correcting the historical injustices for the rights and welfare of the IPs" through the conduct of various activities for the Higaonon Tribe in Barangay Lawan-lawan, Las Nieves.

Together with the local government unit (LGU) of Las Nieves, the 23rd IB troopers delivered basic services through a “Service Caravan” activity to the members of the said Higaonon tribe inside the CADT 118 in Sitio Bokbokon, Barangay Lawan-lawan in the said town last October 31, 2020. The service caravan is in support of the continuing Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) that was launched in Barangay Durian, Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte last September 17, 2020.

Other agencies and stakeholders, through the convergence efforts, also supported the service caravan to the said IP community, to include the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office of Las Nieves, the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Municipal Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Office (MDRRMO), and the office of Agusan del Norte 1st District Representative Laurence Fortun.

The yearly celebration of IP month is in accordance with Proclamation No. 1906 issued on October 5, 2009, that would highlight the IP rights and the preservation of their cultural communities as part of the life of the nation.

The 23rd IB and the government agencies rendered various services to the Higaonon tribe during the activity. The services included free consultation and medical check-up, distribution of kits for pregnant mothers, food packs, and facemasks.

The “Pogi Team” of 23IB also rendered free haircuts to the residents while the unit’s medical team conducted free circumcision to children. Amidst the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the service caravan was conducted in accordance with the health guidelines and protocols.

Datu Manhumusay, the Higaonon tribe leader expressed gratitude to the conduct of the unified services of the government in their community. He said that the celebration of IP month for the Higaonon tribe was meaningful and filled with hopes with the government making itself available to the needs of the people.

“Ang selebrasyon sa IP month ginahimo namo kada tuig diri sa Bokbokon isip pagpadayag sa kustumbre ug tradisyon sa tribung Higaonon. Daku kayo ang among pasalamat sa LGU sa Las Nieves, ilabi na kang Mayor Avelina S Rosales sa suportang gipaabot taliwala niining kasaulugan,” Datu Manhumusay said.

Furthermore, he also acknowledged the support of the 23rd IB especially in securing their community from the threats of the Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs). He also recognized the important role of the Army in ensuring peace and order stability in the area to allow more interventions from the government to their community, particularly the development programs and services.

Meanwhile, in her message, Mayor Rosales commended the IP leaders in the area for their continued support to the programs of the government.

“Ang kasaulugan sa IP month maoy magpalig-on sa kinaiya ug paghiusa natong tanan. The LGU of Las Nieves will always bring the most needed services especially in this time of the pandemic,” Rosales said.

She emphasized that the delivery of social services for the people in far-flung villages is in line with the implementation of Executive Order No. 70 issued by President Rodrigo R. Duterte. The EO 70, the mayor added, aims to unify all the efforts of the government in addressing the insurgency problem and to end the local communist armed conflict in the area.

“May these simple services we offer will somehow help you especially in this time of crisis,” Rosales said.

Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paolo, the Acting Commander of 23rd IB extended his warmest greetings to the Higaonon tribe in Sitio Bokbokon in line with the IP month celebration.

He also cited the support of the IP leaders in the area in the continuing campaign of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against the remaining combatants of the CNT.

“We have been facing this insurgency for years. The present administration of Pres. Duterte is serious about ending these conflicts caused by the communist movement that hinder government development initiatives. The government realized that it is only through the convergence of efforts of all agencies that insurgency can be defeated,” Paulo said.

He also stressed that convergence does not only involve the government agencies but all the stakeholders to peace and development.

“The Higaonon tribe in Sitio Bokbokon are also stakeholders on these combined efforts to defeat the insurgency. Everyone in the community, the leaders and members, must partake in this cause to put an end to insurgency,” Paulo said.

Source: Civil-Military Operations Office, 23rd Infantry Battalion, Joint Task Force Diamond, PA

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