Jolo, Sulu – Ninety-four (94) families safely returned home after three years of being displaced in its own municipality during the Balik Barangay Program held at Brgy. Tugas, Patikul, Sulu on May 28, 2020.

Among the 197 families who were pre-emptively evacuated last 2017, the said 94 households were initially brought back to Brgy. Tugas with the help of the Provincial Task Force on Ending Local Armed Conflict (PTF-ELAC), Municipal Task Force on Ending Local Armed Conflict (MTF-ELAC) and 1101st “Gagandilan” Brigade of the 11th Infantry Division.

6,005 persons were forcedly evacuated due to the rampant harassment and atrocities inflicted by the terrorist Abu Sayaff Group such as burning the community’s schools, ransacking its local produce, and making its structures lair for kidnap victims and other lawless activities. The untimely evacuation badly affected the lives of its residents forcing them to leave their homes and relocate to nearby barangays.

In a testimony, Kathlene Mae Sabtula said that her family had no choice but to leave for safety. With the Balik Barangay Program, she was thankful that they can live a normal life again.

Brigadier General Antonio Nafarrete, Commander of 1101st Brigade said it facilitated the rehabilitation and organization of the barangay’s school, cooperatives and livelihood programs in coordination with the local government of Patikul and stakeholders. The 45th Infantry Battalion of the 1st Brigade Combat Team also facilitated series of clean-up drive in the area.

Meanwhile, the MTF-ELAC granted food assistance to the internally displaced persons along with other non-food items such as blankets, pillows, seedlings, and Php 3,000 cash for each families.

Major General Corleto S. Vinluan Jr., Commander of 11th Infantry Division and Joint Task Force Sulu (JTFS) together with Sulu Governor Abdusakur M. Tan, Patikul Mayor Kabir E. Hayudini and other LGU officials and military officers pledged their commitment “to support the peace efforts of the community; to contribute intellect, time, and resources; and to support the community’s persistent call to denounce violence, lawlessness and criminality.”

“Real war happens inside our community so I encourage you to help our armed forces and local government by reporting all terroristic activities in Patikul. Entering the military profession is also one of the best ways to help your community and family start a new life,” said Governor Tan.

Major General Vinluan also lauded the government of Patikul for encouraging Tausugs to enter the military and appreciated the collaborative efforts rendered by JTFS. “With the presence of Tausug soldiers, we can easily apprehend ASG bandits in Sulu. The government has more plans for the future of your children so let us not waste each one’s efforts for making the Balik Barangay Program possible. Help one another in bringing genuine peace in this province,” he said.