From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 4): Lumads denounce presence of NPA in their area
KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato -- Over a thousand Tboli and Blaan residents in Lake Sebu, this province, marched to the town plaza on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 30 to denounce the presence New People’s Army (NPA) in their area.
Capt. Rey Balibagoso, spokesperson of the 1002nd Infantry Brigade Philippine Army, told Philippine Information Agency in a statement that the peace rally, participated by residents from the municipality’s 19 barangays, was organized to show their objection to the atrocities carried by the rebel group in the area.
“Hadu kem tao tabag; aknagol to dad NPA! (We denounce the group NPA; we do not need them!), the participants shouted in their mother tongue as they marched to the town plaza.
Among the marchers were chieftains, tribal leaders, and barangay officials.
Balibagoso said most of the participants came from Barangay Ned, the biggest and farthest barangay of Lake Sebu.
“The NPA terrorized them (residents of Barangay Ned) before the conduct of the Peace and Development Outreach Program by the 27th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, in collaboration with the local government unit and concerned agencies,” he said.
Speaking at the rally, Lake Sebu Mayor Antonio Fungan emphasized: “We, the IPs, are peace-loving people. What my constituents need are basic services like health, education, and livelihood.”
Fungan said the national government is currently constructing a road network that would connect Poblacion, Lake Sebu to Maitum, Sarangani via Barangay Ned.
Once completed the road could mean less costly and fast transportation of agriculture products of farmers in the uplands to the market; however, the presence of the rebel group along the South Cotabato – Sarangani boundary poses a threat to this development program.
On this regard, the local chief executive requested the 27th IB to provide security for the heavy equipment and the workers constructing the road.
‘We are promoting our town as a tourist destination. For now, we are number 2 tourist destination in the Philippines. We envision to become the number 1 someday,” he added.
In response, Lt. Col. Shalimar Imperial assured to sustain the peace and order in the area with the help from local police, the LGU, and other stakeholders.
Meanwhile, Col. Ronald Villanueva, commanding officer of the 1002nd Infantry Brigade appealed to the NPAs to spare the indigenous peoples in their useless and futile armed struggle.
“The IPs have the right to self-governance and self-determination. It is stated in Republic Act 8371, the Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997,” said Col. Imperial.
In an interview, Capt. Balibagoso confirmed that prior to the peace rally in Lake Sebu, several peace marches have been held in their areas of responsibility.
These included a condemnation rally in Digos City on March 5 denouncing the armed group’s use of landmines in nearby Bansalan town where four civilians were injured; in Pinalpalan in Malita, Davao del Sur on July 27 where a Tagakaolo civilian was killed by members of the NPA; in Makilala, North Cotabato on August 9; and in Poblacion, Arakan, North Cotabato on August 21.
“The upland folk continue to denounce the CPP-NPA-NDF and call for the support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’s campaign on Internal Peace and Security Plan – Bayanihan, so that peace and development will continue,” Balibagoso said.
The activity was sponsored by Bangsamoro Initiatives and Emergency Development Assistance Program (BIEDAP), a non-government organization (NGO) based in Malisbong, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat; Bangsamoro Communication Network (BCN) led by Marot Piang; SUFRA BASE led by Harris Guiapal and Kabalikat Civicom led by Jun Mangulamas. The advocacy program was organized by MILF AHJAG Team-4 and Committee on Information, Provincial Director Hajji Salem Abo and Biwang Provincial Secretary Amrillah Mamadra.
Dr. Parido R. Pigkaulan of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) and some members of MILF agencies arrived in Maitum, Sarangani Province on August 29 and were welcomed by members of MILF-AHJAG and motorcade towards the coastal village of Malisbong.
The advocacy proper was held on August 30, 2014 and was attended by participants from five Municipalities of Biwang Provincial Committee namely, Kraan Municipal Committee, Chairman Kasanan Malinog, Javalnur Municipality, Chairman Akas Mamintal, Lake Sebu Municipality, Chairman Kasan Sampiano, Palimbang Municipal Committee, Chairman Nasser H. Pendi and Maganao Municipality.
MILF-BIAF 107th Base Commander Taruc Mastura, Brigade Commander Ansar Kudanding, Social Welfare Committee (SWC) MILF Biwang Province Chairperson Samsiya Taja and Yasmine Mangulamas, the Provincial Chairman on Health and Sanitation joined the activity.
The program started with a recital of some verses of the Holy Qur’an, followed by a welcome address and a muhadarah or Islamic orientation. An inspirational message was delivered by Chairman Kingboy Bayang of the MILF Biwang Provincial Committee.
Dr. Pigkaulan, the invited speaker gave up-dates on GPH-MILF peace deal, the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Normalization programs, Justice and Reconciliation. He said that the long delayed submission of BBL to Congress had caused anxiety and confusions among the Moro people but after a lengthy discussion the government represented by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa and Mohagher Iqbal, MILF Peace panel Chairman and concurrent BTC chairman, finally came up with an agreed version that is expected to be submitted to congress within the first week of September. After his lecture, an open forum followed.
On August 31, an initial investigation was made on the infamous 1974 Malisbong massacre that took place inside a mosque. Survivors and/or relatives of martial law victims and ILAGA atrocities were interviewed. The team from Justice and Reconciliation Committee made evaluation of properties damaged in the locality; took note of usurped Moro lands by settlers and all other acts in violation of human rights were also recorded by the team. The horrible experience of Moro women who were forcefully taken on board a naval ship sometime in 1974 were part of the investigation. They also made an actual inspection of the Malisbong Mosque and took pictures.