Bancasi, Butuan City – The National Commission for Indigenous People (NCIP) of Surigao del Sur (SDS) in partnership with the Provincial Government of Surigao del Sur celebrated yesterday, October 29, 2019, the 22nd Indigenous People Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997 and the 2nd IP Day Celebration of Surigao del Sur with a theme “Strengthening Future Leadership and Management of Ancestral Domains: Entrusting the IP Youths” held at Tandag City Gym, Brgy Bongtud, Tandag City of said province.

In support to the IP’s role in the pursuit of peace and development in Caraga region, the Brigade Commander of the 402nd Infantry Brigade, Col Maurito L Licudine, graced the momentous event together with Provincial Director of Police Provincial Office (PPO) of SDS, PCol James P Gofort.

More or less two-thousand (2,000) IPs from the different Tribal Communities of the municipalities/cities of the province attended the 2nd year celebration spearheaded by no less than the Regional Director (RD) of NCIP Caraga, Mr Ferdausi S Cerna, the SDS Provincial IP Mandatory Representative (IPMR), Hon Jimmy I Guinsod, and Datu Cesar Bat-ao, the Provincial Tribal Chieftain together with other local agency representatives.

The festivities started with a grand parade of all tribal communities around the City followed by an IP ritual at the gym highlighted by the presentation of NCIP SDS and IPMR Accomplishment Report.

RD Cerna in his speech said, “The 22nd year of IPRA celebration is not a celebration but more of a challenge. Challenge for the IPs to move forward despite the threats from the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) and greedy investors. Through EO70, where basic services are surely to be rendered, I am sure we can win this war against insurgency. As what Sun Tzu have said, that the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting, and this is what we are doing now”.

Meanwhile, Col Licudine in his message highlighted the significance of the government interventions that empowered IPs such as the institutionalization of the IP Structure, designation of IP Mandatory Representatives and the implementation of priority programs of PRRD that are already in the pipeline to include the special quota for IP enlistment to the regular force of the Philippine Army.

He said, “We congratulate the whole the IP community of SDS for celebrating 22nd IPRA Anniversary. After 22yrs of IPRA existence, however, many IPs still remain marginalize and isolated. This is because IPs have been exploited and controlled by the CTG for so long. They wanted the IPs to remain in poverty, without education and neglected so that they can continue to exploit the issues at the expense of the tribal communities.

“The CNTs are the obstacle of the IPs progress! They capitalized on destroying traditional leadership that IPs built, separate families and make the tribes fight each other. Hence, I call on all IP leaders and its members to unite and overcome this ploy of the CNTs and together let us end insurgency, resolve our internal rift and do not surrender your aspiration to pursue peace and development for your communities. Rest assured, you have the 100 percent commitment and support of the Army”, Col Licudine ended.