IMPASUGONG, BUKIDNON – In observance of the Indigenous People’s (IPs) Month, 19 former rebels (FRs) who are members of the Higaonon and Talaandig tribes have reconciled with the government after being exploited and deceived by the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) for a long time at Sitio Mahayag, Brgy St. Peter, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon last October 27, 2021.
A ritual for community healing called “Singampu Hu Butwaay” with the theme “Kipita Pagnayaun Hu Kalandang” (Hand in Hand Towards Peace) was conducted to show how the IP community supports the FRs as they reconcile with the government.
The Talaandig and Higaonon tribes of Sitio Mahayag headed by their tribal leaders unitedly and sincerely participated in the reconciliation activity together with Hon. Florencio Flores Jr, City Mayor of Malaybalay, Datu Renato Sumbongan, Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representative (IPMR) of Malaybalay, Datu Harry Sumbongan, Tribal Chieftain of Malaybalay City, Datu Cristoto Lailay Jr., IPMR, Brgy. St Peter, Hon. Rubencio Organisa, Brgy Captain, St Peter, and LTC Edgardo Talaroc Jr, Commanding Officer of the 8th Infantry Battalion, and other government officials.
Datu Renato Sumbongan expressed, “Ang lumad pwedeng mailad kausa apan dili hangtud sa hangtud. Duna kitay mga dakong katungod nga maoy gililong ug gikuha kanato sa Teroristang New People’s Army (NPA). Ang aktibidad nato karon usa ka pagpakita nga kita, kauban ang mga sundalo ug gobyerno nagapuyo sa usa ka nasud nga Pilipinas kung diin angay nga kita magsinabtanay.” (The IP can be can be deceived once but not forever. We (IP) have our rights that the terrorist NPA has hidden and taken away from us. Our activity today shows that we, together with the soldiers and the government, live in one country, the Philippines, wherein we understand each other.)
LTC Edgardo Talaroc Jr, Commander 8IB, said, “Ako nagpasalamat sa lokal nga panggamhanan sa Malaybalay ingon man sa Bukidnon ilabi na sa atong mga kaigsuonang IP tungod sa hugot nilang partisipasyon ug kooperasyon aron matabangan nato ang mga kanhing rebelde. Ang atong panaghiusa ang maoy tubag sa dugay ng problema sa insurhensya dinhi sa atong lugar.” (I am thankful to the local governments of Malaybalay City and Bukidnon Province especially to our IP brothers and sisters because of their participation and cooperation in helping the former rebels. Our convergence is the key in ending the local insurgency in our area.)
“Ang atong aktibidad tungod sa pagsurrender sa mga CNTs nga anaa dinhi sa komunidad. Sa matag panahon nga motan-aw ko kanila, makita nako unsa ka importante ang mga pulong nga “Family Reunited”. Kini tungod sa dihang midesider sila nga mobalik na sa sabakan sa gobyerno. Nakauli sila sa ilang pamilya ug nahimo silang malipayon,” Talaroc ended. (Our activity is a result of the surrender of the CNTs from this community. Whenever I see them, I realize the importance of the words “Family Reunited”. This is because after they decided to return to the folds of the law, they also returned to their families and became happy.)
Along with the said ritual, the LGU of Malaybalay City conducted a medical mission where they offered free check-ups and medicines to the IPs.
“Singampu Hu Butwaay” is a traditional belief of the IPs that signifies the reconciliation of two or more parties involved in alarming chaos in the Indigenous People (IP) community. This is a symbol of the FRs sincerity in going back to the folds of the government and in breaking their ties with the CTGs after being fooled and exploited for a long time.