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Sustained gov’t presence way to address terror threats in Ata-Manobo communities

The series  of rollouts of the Oplan Serbisyo sa Kalinaw in the Ata-Manobo communities in Talaingod augurs well with  the thrust  of  the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army to seal the boundary entrances towards Davao Region which has been declared as “insurgency-free.”

Lying in the vicinity of  the Pantaron Mountain Range, the municipality of Talaingod in Davao del Norte is identified by the 10ID as the possible entrance of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) remnants still operating in the adjacent province of Bukidnon in  Northern Mindanao.

Talaingod lies in the Pantaron Mountain Range vicinity at  the  boundary of Bukidnon province in Northern Mindanao. Still thickly forested, the mountain range straddles the boundaries  of Davao Region, Northern Mindanao Region, and the CARAGA Region.

“Sa boundary sa Bukidnon ug  Talaingod, naa diha ang North Central Committee  nagalihok nga hangtod karon galihok pa  (At the boundary of Bukidnon and Talaingod, the North Central  Committee operates and is still operating),”  Philippine Army 10ID spokesperson Major Mark Anthony Tito said during the latest episode of the Philippine Information Agency’s  Kapihan sa DavNor TV program aired “Live” over PTV DavNor 48.

Tito  brought back to memory that Talaingod used to be the stronghold of the Southern Mindanao Regional Command of the New People's Army  (NPA) for quite some time, before this largely Ata-Manobo populated town was declared “insurgency-free” together with the entire province of Davao del Norte.

Philippine Army's 10th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office (DPAO) chief Major Mark Anthony Tito points out the need to sustain the caravan of services in far-flung areas of Talaingod during his guesting at the Kapihan sa Davao del Norte.

Need to sustain

Despite the seemingly peaceful and secure status of the municipality, the provincial government of Davao del Norte  still strides to make its presence felt in the hinterland areas of Talaingod.

“Once man gud nga dili ma sustain, ma stop ang mga serbisyo caravans ug ang delivery of services ngadto sa atong mga katawhan, basig makaingon sila nga  hangtod didto lang diay to (If we’d not be able to sustain,  and stop the delivery of services to the people, they would probably  say, It was just up to that time),” Tito said, referring to the period when national and  local governments waged aggressive moves to reach the peripheral communities at the height of implementing Executive Order No. 70 dealing on Ending the Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC).

On top of sustaining the government's presence in the hinterlands of Talaingod, the Davao del Norte provincial government also sought to provide immediate response to those  who had been affected by the “stop-buying of Daratex,” a  variety of fiber widely assumed to be abaca.

Philippine Information Agency Davao del Norte Infocen brings into the Kapihan sa DavNor panel of guests who are key employees of the Provincial Planning and Development Office-Davao del Norte together with the 10th Infantry Division's Pyblic Affairs Offie chief to discusss the accomplishment of the series of five Oplan Serbisyo sa Kalinaw conducted under the Local Peace Engagement (LPE) Cluster of the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

“So need jud nga moadto ta didto aron mahatagan  jud ug serbisyo ang mga farmers ng ana apektuhan sa mga stop buying sa  Daratex (So we really need to get there to deliver services to farmers affected by the stop buying of Daratex),” said Maria Florencia Cadagdagon, administrative officer of the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO) during the same TV program.

Settlers and Ata-Manobo communities in Talaingod used to widely and commonly plant Daratex variety of fiber sources, assuming those were of Abaca quality, but the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (Phil FIDA) says the fiber industry no longer buys  and use Daratex because it taints the fiber quality of abaca, and Daratex is not abaca.

Immediate assistance

The provincial government of Davao del Norte started hauling the Oplan Serbisyo sa Kalinaw to provide immediate relief for those severely affected by the “fake abaca” endeavor on November 7, 2023, accomplishing five rounds of massive service delivery until December 7, 2023.

The PPDO  led the Provincial Local  Peace Engagement (LPE) EO 70 Cluster in rolling out the Oplan Serbisyo para sa Kalinaw hauled in sitio Basak, Brgy Sto Nino of Talaingod; sitio Tibucag in Brgy Dagohoy; sitios Nasilaban and Central Baugan in Brgy Palma Gil; and Sitio Muling in the municipality of Kapalong.

The delivery of services was noted to have a wide-ranging impact, as it benefited residents in nearby villages aside from those living in the sitios where it was conducted.  

The 56th Infantry Battalion assisted the service caravanrollout in the Municipality of Talaingod by mobilizing the residents from neighboring villages to the service  delivery sites, while the 60th Infantry Battalion served as the major cooperating agency in organizing the service caravan rollout in Kapalong.

The service caravan in sitio Basak also touched the lives of residents from 10 other sitios:  in Tibucag, 22 other sitios; in Nasilaban, 18; in Central Baugan, seven; and in Muling, six other sitios, benefiting  a total of 18,195 including children.

Among the government services hauled were medical and dental, agro-forest distribution of seedlings, legal assistance, social services, including hair-cuts with personnel from the Philippine National Police, and enterprise development.

Cadagdagon  particularly mentioned that some 50,000 abaca seedlings were distributed. A total of 2,600 families in Talaingod received the Tangungon Abaca seedlings from the Provincial Agriculture Office (PAGRO), while 593 families got the same during the service caravan rollout in Kapalong.

Oplan 2024

This year,  the Oplan Serbisyo sa Kalinaw will continue hauling local and national government services in some hinterland areas in Davao del Norte, but Provincial Planning and Development Officer IV Princess Lyn Vistal projected such service delivery to become more comprehensive, not only addressing conflict  “but also crime and disorder and illegal drugs.”

Vistal  revealed that the Oplan Serbisyo sa Kalinaw has been integrated into the three-year programs, activities, and projects (PAPs) under the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC).

“This is  just one of the programs of Governor Jubahib to achieve just and  lasting peace for  the Dabaonons,” Vistal said, citing other big-ticket projects such as roads, water system, and  rural electrification for far-flung communities.

“Atong jud ipa-feel, ipadangat sa Ilaha nga naa mi dinhi, naa ang gobyerno wala mo gikalimtan  (Let’s make them feel, tell them that we are here; the government is here, we have not forgotten you),” she added.  (JMDA/PIA Davao  del Norte)

About the Author

Jeanevive Abangan

Deputy Regional Head

Region 11

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