Lianga, Surigao Del Sur (ADS) – “We won the fight to have quality Education,” Hawudon Jumar S. Bucales, Lianga Indigenous People Mandatory Representative (IPMR) and Datu Constancio Duhac, Lianga Tribal Chieftain, said during the Inauguration Ceremony of two DepEd IP Schools of Living Traditions on September 16 to the IP communities and the local government units in
Sitio Simowao in Lianga and Sitio Lucnodon in Marihatag to replace non-DepEd accredited and communist NPA terrorist (CNT)-linked Tribal Filipino Program in Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS).
Bayan Muna representatives Eufemia Cullamat, a native of Lianga and the Makabayan bloc have been continuously opposing the establishment of DepEd accredited IP schools accusing the government, particularly the NTF-ELCAC of depriving the IPs’ of education because of its closure order to TRIFPSS and ALCADEV and discredits the military’s Community Support Program in the IP communities during the budget hearing in Congress.
Yet, Surigao Sur IP leaders have been vocal in their support to the NTF-ELCAC and have lambasted Cullamat and her cohorts and identified them as cuddlers of NPAs.
“When the government addresses the root causes of insurgency and confronts the NPAs through combat operations, they oppose, but when it comes to NPAs’ killings of innocent IP leaders and members, they are quiet. Cullamat and Makabayan bloc simply cover up the NPAs and discredits the government forces that are enforcing the laws against NPAs,” Datu Rico Maca, IPMR of San Miguel Surigao Del Sur said.
Surigao Sur IP leaders have sought the help of the Regional Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) to abolish the said schools and replace them with DepEd IP schools citing that TRIFPSS and ALCADEV breeds NPA terrorists and cadres who have destroyed their culture.
Lieutenant Colonel Joey B Baybayan INF PA, 3rd Special Forces “Arrowhead” Battalion Commander said, “The best weapon we can use to counter terrorism is to teach the children the genuine essence of peace. These DepEd IP schools will not only provide quality education but also the right values that can preserve and even develop the culture and tradition of our indigenous peoples.”
Surigao Sur Province, DepEd CARAGA, RTF-ELCAC member agencies particularly the Regional Peace and Order Committee (RPOC) and Regional Development Council (RDC) stood by the guiding principle that the ‘State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all.’
This is why they worked hard to establish the schools so that the IP
communities in the conflict-affected areas may have access to quality education.
“For the information of all, the request for the closure of CNT-linked TRIFPSS and ALCADEV emanated from the resolutions of the legitimate IP leaders, local government units and even the former rebels who were products of these schools. The focus of our community support program in the communities is to identify the primary and secondary issues of the IPs so that the government will know how to help them. Quality IP education is what the IP wants and we raised it to the RTF-ELCAC to address it, “Brigadier General Allan D Hambala AFP, 401st Brigade Commander, said.
Former Rebels and IP leaders’ testimonies, and recovered documents from combat encounters against NPAs which served as substantial evidences unearthed the symbiotic relationship of ALCADEV, TRIFPSS and the NPA terrorist movement in Surigao Sur.
Surigao Del Sur Governor Alexander T. Pimentel, DEPED CARAGA Regional Director Francis Bringas, RDC-SDC chairman and Bayugan City Mayor Kirk A. Asis, 4th Infantry Division Commander Major General Andres C. Centino AFP, Surigao Provincial IPMR, Datu Jimmy Guinsod, Lianga Mayor Novelita M Sarmen and Marihatag Mayor Marc Justine Pelenio with RTF-ELCAC member agencies were present in the ceremonial turn-over of DepEd IP schools.
The RTF-ELCAC’s thrust is to address the root causes of insurgency and NPA terrorism to put an end to the protracted war waged by the Communist NPA Terrorists that have been draining the country’s resources and have wasted many Filipinos’ lives for over 5 decades.