Press ReleaseLast of Patikul IDPs of Return Home
HomePress ReleaseLast of Patikul IDPs of Return Home

Last of Patikul IDPs of Return Home

November 26, 2021, Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista – Yesterday, some 208 internally displaced families finally returned to their homes in So Darayan Bgy Buhanginan, Patikul Sulu, highlighting the culmination of the government’s successful Balik Barangay Program in the province.

Also former ground zero of the fight against Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Sitio Darayan has been a no man’s land for about five years. That is until yesterday morning when it officially welcomes home residents who were forced to reside in the neighboring towns in Patikul to avoid being caught between the skirmishes of ASG and the government forces.

This program, which took several months of planning and preparation involved security operations of the military, construction of roads and other infrastructures courtesy of the local government agencies and information drive for the residents through the local chief executives.

Yesterday, it culminated with the distribution of starter kits from various entities to include the International Organization for Migration and representatives from the U.S. military. Another highlight was the pronouncement of peace covenant which enjoined everyone to collectively act to ensure the attainment of peace and order in the community.

To recall, the Balik Barangay Program – through the Municipal Task Force in Ending Local Armed Conflict (MTF-ELAC)’s – first catered to the residents of Brgy Bungkaong on February 17, 2020. During the course of year 2020 and 2021, the Patikul MTF-ELAC was also successful in rehabilitating and bringing home the IDPs of Brgys Latih, Tugas, Maligay, Kabbon Takas, Pansul, Bakung and Panglayahan.

“At first, many had doubts about this program since the fight is still ongoing. Pero noong unti-unting nararamdaman na yung kapayapaan at nakikita ‘yung pagtutulungan ng iba’t-ibang sangay ng gobyerno, pati kooperasyon ng komunidad, naramadaman namin na ito talaga ang nararapat na gawin. Hindi maaring masira ang buhay ng libo-libong mga Tausug dahil lang sa iilan na naghahasik ng terorismo,” said Joint Task Force – Sulu and 11th Infantry Division MGen William N Gonzales.

According to MGen Gonzales, what is unexpected is how effective the Program for IDPs was able to help in the campaign to make Sulu a more peaceful place. “Maliban sa gumanda ang buhay ng tao, gumanda rin ang relasyon sa pagitan ng mga mamamayan, ng LGU at ng military. Maraming nagvo-volunteer bilang CAFGU. Marami ring mga ASG na nagbabalik-loob.”

One CAFGU Active Auxilliary who’s from Sitio Darayan is CAA Taha H Luddani.

“Pumasok ako bilang CAA noong gagawin pa lang ang Balik Barangay dito sa Darayan dahil kailangan talaga nila ng Tausug. Nag-volunteer po ako sapagkat ako po ay taga rito. Kaya tama lang na kami ang manguna sa pag-secure sa mismong lugar namin. Ngayon ho labing-apat na kaming CAFGU na taga rito. Gagawin po namin ang lahat, wag lang maulit ang hirap ng buhay bilang bakwit”, notes CAA Luddani.

Meanwhile, Governor Abdusakur M Tan said that the Balik Barangay Program changed the landscape of Sulu in an unprecedented manner. “Local Tourism is now booming beacause our constituents realized that it is safe to open businesses and roam around Sulu for leisure. Yung mga dating encounter sites, trekking attractions na ngayon. Pwede na ring mag-overnight sa mga beach. Not only are we healing, but we are now rapidly growing or developing as a province.”

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