BUTUAN CITY – Manobo tribal leaders in the Surigao del Sur town of Lianga have commended the continuing progress of the construction of the indigenous people (IP) school in Sitio Simuwao, Barangay Diatagon.
“This school will ensure the good future of our children,” said Datu Constancio Duhac, the tribal chieftain in Lianga, in a statement issued Thursday (May 28).
Duhac said the construction of the IP school kicked-off early this month and is now 60 percent completed.
The tribal leader visited the construction site Wednesday along with Lianga officials led by Mayor Novelita Sarmen, officials of the Army’s 3rd Special Forces Battalion, and representatives of the Department of Agriculture and the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
Duhac said the school will be named Sitio Simuwao School of Living Traditions and will replace the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS).
TRIFPSS and the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development, Inc. (ALCADEV), which maintained schools in the area, are under fire for their alleged links with the communist New People’s Army (NPA).
Both schools, the military said, act as recruitment grounds for the communist rebel movement.
“We are thankful for the new hope provided for our children through this school because, during our time, we lived in a life where Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) continuously exploit us and even recruit us to be like them using their communist school of thought,” Duhac said.
He added that with the support of the government, the LGU, and the military, most of the IP communities in the area “are liberated after a long time of being exploited by the CNTs”.
The tribal leader also underscored the role of the Army and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the Manobos’ pursuit to achieve genuine peace and development in their communities.
“We cannot allow our tribe to suffer further in the hands of these brutal Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) that is why we requested the military’s presence to advance and protect various government programs for our IP communities even if it will cost our lives,” Duhac said.
Another Manobo leader, Hawudon Jumar Bucales, the Indigenous People Mandatory Representative (IPMR) of Lianga, expressed gratitude for the establishment of government IP school in the area.
“This school in Sitio Simuwao is just the beginning. There will be more government IP schools to be established in different areas in Diatagon, especially in areas that need to be liberated from the influence of the CNTs,” Bucales said.
He also warned of NPA harassments to hamper the continuing initiatives of the government for the IPs in Lianga.
“We will face harassments and resistance but with the military and the government present, we believe that the tribe will overcome all the trials,” Bucales said. (Alexander Lopez/PNA)