Sitio Malantao, Brgy Halapitan, San Fernando, Bukidnon – On March 11, 2019, Tribal Leaders’ Dialogue was initiated by the 10th Infantry (AGILA) Division, Philippine, Army spearheaded by COL NASSER P LIDASAN INF (GSC) PA, Operations Officer 10ID, PA and COL NORMAN ALCOVINDAS INF (GSC) PA, 10th CMO Battalion Commander with the participation of 56th Infantry (TATAG) Battalion under the command of LTC EDWIN M PAREDES INF (GSC) PA and San Fernando MPS led by P/Cpl Mary Jean Arcayan, PCR NCO at Sitio Malantao,, Brgy Halapitan, San Fernando, Bukidnon.

The Ata-Manobo Tribal Leaders of Talaingod who are headed by Bae Pilar Libayao, the Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representative (IPMR) and Datu Guibang Apoga, the legendary founder of Salugpungan and the Tigwahanon Tribal leaders of San Fernando, Bukidnon headed by Datu Donie Payaron, Municipal IPMR are accompanied by LTC EDWIN M PAREDES INF (GSC) PA, Battalion Commander of the 56IB, PA based in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

Talaingod IPMR, Bae Pilar Libayao, appeals to her fellow tribal leaders to stop supporting the CPP-NPA Terrorist Groups and reminds them to defend their Tribes from the intimidations of the NPAs, to hold an everlasting Peace and Development for their homeland and for the better future of their tribes. She said, “Sa amin sa Talaingod, ramdam mo at makikita mo na nagkaroon ng kapayapaan dahil sa presensya ng sundalo. Batid ko ang sinseridad ng mga sundalo sa Talaingod dahil wala akong nabalitaan na masama laban sa kanila bagkus puro positibo. Ang mga nagbabalik-loob na rebelde ay tinatrato nila ng makatao at naaayon sa batas. At higit sa lahat, ang mga sundalo sa aking nasasakupan ay marunong rumespeto sa kultura nating mga lumad” (Translate in Bisaya).

Bae Pilar Libayao added, “Kaya ngayon ay umaapela ako sa inyo para sa kapayapaan nating mga lumad, na tayo ay magkaisa at huwag na nating hayaang maka-apak pa sa ating mga nasasakupan ang mga CPP-NPA dahil wala naman itong mabuting maidududot kundi kapahamakan at kaguluhan lamang para sa atin. Tayo bilang Tribal leaders ay may responsibilidad para pangalagaan ang kaligtasan ng ating mga tao at nasasakupan’’. (Translate in Bisaya)

Datu Payaron agreed on the appeal and asserted to his colleagues that they must need to have unity to support peace in San Fernando thru the help of the government and the AFP. ‘’Natutuwa kaming mga lumad dito sa San Fernando na may nagmamalasakit sa amin upang maisaayos ang aming nasasakupan na unti-unting nasisira sa kamay ng mga NPA. Sa tulong po ng ating Goberno at kasundaluhan kasama ng kapulisan ay may pag-asa na muling makalaya ang aming nasasakupan sa kamay ng mga mapagsamantalang NPA”. (Translate in Bisaya).

The dialogue was actively participated by all tribal leaders who have common goals, that is to attain peace in their respective areas. Also, during the dialogue, COL Alcovindas shared information regarding the implementation of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) and subsequently expressed the sincerity of the government to have long-lasting peace in Mindanao.

COL LIDASAN also discussed to the tribal leaders the rules of engagement and stressed that the troops are constantly reminded to the adherence to the Rules of Law and respect the Human Rights as well as to respect the culture of the lumads in the society.

LTC PAREDES advised the tribes to encourage the rebels and their allies to return to the folds of the law, however they must denounce their support to the NPAs.  He assured the tribal leaders that this unit will never leave the tribespeople in their quest to achieve peace and development in their municipalities. “Wala naman kaming ibang hangad kundi ang mapabuti ang mga mamamayan sa aming nasasakupan. Inaasahan ko na tayo ay magkakapit-bisig upang makamtan natin ang pang-matagalang kapayapaan sa ating komunidad nang sa ganun ay susunod na rin ang pag-unlad nito”, LTC Paredes said.