Lianga, Surigao Del Sur (SDS) – Manobo tribes in the conflict-affected Sitio Simuwao (Kilometer 9) in Diatagon, Lianga wear big smiles as the government recently started the construction of their most awaited IP school for their children.The school will be called Sitio Simuwao School of Living Traditions and replace the alleged communist-linked Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) according to a statement by the Lianga IP Mandatory Representative, Hawudon Jumar S. Bucales today.
Arnold Godez, a resident of Km 9 said “Malaki ang pasasalamat namin sa eskwelahan na ipapatayo ng DepEd dito sa Sitio Simuwao. Bilang magulang, natutuwa ako na hindi na kailangang lumayo pa ang aming mga anak para mag-aral.”
The construction of the IP makeshift school emanated from the IP Council and the barangay’s resolutions. The Lianga Local Government adopted the resolutions which was strongly and unanimously supported by the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) chaired by Governor Alexander T. Pimentel and Regional Development Council-Social Development Committee (RDC-SDC) chaired by Mayor Kirk A. Asis as part of the Regional Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (RTF-ELCAC’s) efforts to implement development projects for identified Peace and Development Zones (PDZ) in CARAGA.
Lieutenant Colonel Joey B Baybayan INF GSC PA said that the community support teams with the 544 Engineer Battalion will continue to protect the sitio until the completion of the school project. It can be recalled that Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) attacked civilians last February 21 which injured 3 civilians as a desperate move to hamper the development intended for the IPs and demonize the military.
Brigadier General Allan D Hambala AFP, 401ST Infantry Brigade Commander, expressed his gratitude to the prompt response of the RTF-ELCAC member agencies to make the schools ready before the opening of classes after the COVID-19 crisis.
“To make the IPs resilient and not deprive them of quality education are some of the primary objectives of the Whole of Nation Approach to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. Through proper education, the IPs will be able to protect themselves from the CNTs’ deception and exploitation. Further, providing them quality education could help them preserve and develop their culture and tradition, “Brigadier General Hambala, said.
Meanwhile, the Lianga Tribal Council has called on the Bayan Muna and their local affiliate, the alleged communist-linked militant and anti-government group Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) and their allied religious group not to create any scene to disrupt the establishment of the IP schools because the people will surely be disappointed with their actions.
“Siguro naman hindi masama na magpatayo ng kalidad na eskwelahan para sa aming tribo. Kung pipigilan at gagawan na naman ng kung anu-anong isyu ito ng Bayan Muna at ng MAPASU, eh wala na talaga silang mukhang ihaharap sa mga tao dito sa Sitio Simuwao. Makiisa nalang sana sila at suportahan ito para sa tribo at ideklara ang mga teroristang NPA na persona non-grata na siyang dahilan ng kaguluhan at kahirapan dito sa komunidad,” Bucales, said.
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