From conflict-affected to a resilient IP Community in Surigao Sur
Lianga, Surigao del Sur – Forty members of the Conflict-affected Indigenous Peoples (IP) Community of Sitio Simuwao formed a women’s organization named, Km9 Simuwao Kabudangan Association (KSKA) on January 12 at Sitio Simuwao (Kilometer 9), in barangay Diatagon of Lianga to prepare the community for the implementation of government livelihood programs of the Surigao del Sur Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC). This is one of the IP community’s first steps to become resilient and empowered to any conflict.
The Community Support Program (CSP) teams composed of the 9th Special Forces Company, 3rd Special Forces “Arrowhead” Battalion, 41ST Civil-Military Operations Company, Lianga Police Community Relations, IP Tribal Council of Lianga and the Barangay Local Government Unit of barangay Diatagon facilitated the IP women’s drafting of their constitution and by-laws. Their next activities will include leadership and livelihood training.
It can be recalled that Kilometer 9 IPs were then exploited by the alleged Communist NPA Terrorist (CNTs) linked anti-government and militant groups through the conduct of “Taktikang Bakwit” in the past years. However, through the Local Government Unit (LGU)-led effort to win the peace through the Task Force ELCAC and CSP, an environment of genuine peace and reconciliation between the government (to include the military) and the IP Community was fostered.
During the first peace dialogue between the military and IPs last August 22, 2019, some of the IPs were still skeptical, but with tangible results of sustainable development and people empowerment by the government such as the rehabilitation of farm to market roads, installation of electricity lines, and the delivery of various basic government services, the IPs found a real ally against the CNTs who exploited them.
One mother from KM9 said, “We now realized that the only way to attain the tribe’s preservation and development is to make ourselves resilient. We don’t need to rely always to the government. Instead, we have to strive ourselves to have a better life.”
Bayan Muna and Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang sa mga Sumusunod (MAPASU) attempted to stop the government’s implementation of Executive Order No. 70 and demanded to pull-out the military from the community but Surigao Sur province and the IP community remained steadfast to their commitment to end insurgency and turned down their demand immediately.
Meanwhile, the IP Council mulls the establishment of a detachment which will serve as an inter-agency facility to address criminality, insurgency and environment exploitation in Kilometer 9 to further boost their quest to have a resilient and peaceful community.
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