Wednesday, June 17, 2020

IP kids get school supplies from Army, LGUs in Surigao Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 17, 2020): IP kids get school supplies from Army, LGUs in Surigao Sur (By Alexander Lopez)

BACK-TO-SCHOOL GIFTS. Around 100 children belonging to the Manobo tribe in Barangay Caras-an in Tago town and Libas-Sud in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur receive school supplies from the Army’s 3rd Special Forces Battalion and the local government units on Tuesday (June 16, 2020) in preparation for the opening of classes this year. The outreach is part of the government's drive against the communist rebels' recruitment in the area. (Photo courtesy of 3SFBn)

More than 100 Manobo children in the indigenous people (IP) communities in the towns of Tago and San Miguel in Surigao del Sur received their early school supplies from the Army and local government units (LGUs).

1Lt. Krisjuper Andreo Punsalan, civil-military operations officer of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion (3SFBn), said the distribution of school supplies to schoolchildren took place Tuesday (June 16) in the IP villages of Caras-an in Tago and Libas-Sud in San Miguel.

“The activity is in anticipation of the opening of classes in August. Each of the children received packages with notebooks, eraser, pencil, ballpen, sharpener, crayon, and scissors,” Punsalan said in a statement sent to the Philippine News Agency Wednesday.

Involved during the distribution were forces from the 7th Special Forces Company of 3SFBn and representatives from the LGUs of Tago and San Miguel, he said.

“The IP communities in Caras-an and Libas-sud were once exploited by the militant group, Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU), through mobilizing the innocent IPs in the scripted evacuation tactic (Taktikang Bakwit) to demonize the community support teams assigned in the area to secure and assist the LGU in delivering the basic social services,” Punsalan said.

He said that with the unified efforts of the LGUs and the different line agencies of the government and other stakeholders through the task force to end local communist armed conflict, series of education activities were launched in the conflict-affected communities to counter the "deceptive recruitment schemes of the NPA".

“IP leaders and barangay officials now coordinate with the LGUs and the local disaster risk management offices to systematically handle evacuations to prevent groups affiliated with the Communist NPA Terrorist (CNT) in exploiting the tribal people,” Punsalan said.

He added that IP communities and their leaders now support the activities of the Army, including the conduct of military operations against the NPA rebels.

“The LGUs and IP leaders now fully support the combat operations against CNTs because they want to end insurgency as soon as possible,” Punsalan said.

Lt. Col. Joey Baybayan, 3SFBn commander, said IP communities in the towns of Tago and San Miguel "now realize that they are never the target of the combat operations of the Army but the NPA rebels who continue to sow malicious propaganda against the government forces".

“Community support teams will continuously be deployed in conflict-affected areas and villages not only to facilitate the delivery basic services but to reach out and bring the message of hope to Communist NPA Terrorists who would like to surrender,” Baybayan said.

He said the government is always ready to accept the NPA surrenderers and provide the necessary support through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.

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