Camp Aquino, Tarlac City – IP Leader of Zambales and the Director for Cultural Affairs of Access to Human Rights International (AHRI) Philippines, Dir. Samuel M. Balintay Jr. expressed that ‘violence was never part of the indigenous people’s culture.’
The statement was issued during the Indigenous People – Youth Leadership Summit (IP – YLS) facilitated by Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) on Wednesday, in partnership with the Local Government of Porac, Pampanga and Alviera. The 2-day event culminated on Thursday and was held at Pinatubo Eco Adventure and Cultural Enclave – Katutubong Anak ng Mt. Pinatubo (PEACE KAMP), Barangay Sapang Uwak, Porac, Pampanga. It was participated in by 30 IP youth leaders coming from the different IP communities in Porac, Pampanga.
With the theme: “Strengthening the Culture of Peace and Inclusive Development,” the participants of the IP – YLS have undergone series of lectures and team-building activities that will help them understand the role of the youth in nation-building while developing their leadership skills as future leaders in their respective communities.
Likewise, the event, which also aims to prevent and counter violent extremism, featured Ka Mae, a former rebel. In her presentation, she revealed to the participants the atrocities that the New People’s Army does to teenage rebels like her. She gave a clear picture of the grim life that lies ahead if the youth fall into the manipulative ploys of the terrorist group.
In addition to his statement, Dir. Balintay emphasized that “Ang mga katutubong Aeta ay ayaw sa gulo at sa armadong pakikibaka, hangad ng mga katutubong Aeta ang tahimik at mapayapang paraan tungo sa kaunlaran.”
Lieutenant General Arnulfo Marcelo B Burgos Jr, the Commander of NOLCOM expressed that, “Taon- taon ang Headquarters NOLCOM ay nagsasagawa ng Youth Leadership Summit sa iba’t – ibang bahagi ng Sentral at Hilagang Luson. Ito ay upang makatulong na palawigin ang kaalaman ng mga kabataan ukol sa tamang gawain at kung paano kayo makakatulong sa inyong komunidad pagdating sa usapin ng seguridad, kapayapaan at kaunlaran.”
He added that, “Bilang kabataan, kayo ay napakahalagang elemento ng ating pamayanan, nasa mga kamay ninyo ang kinabukasan ng ating mahal na bayan. Ako ay lubos na naniniwala na sa tamang gabay, ang mga katutubong kabataan ay lalaking may magandang pananaw sa buhay at may malasakit sa kapwa na siyang magbigay daan tungo sa kapayapaan at progresibong pagbabago ng ating bayan.”
Lieutenant General Burgos ended his remarks by encouraging the participants to denounce the communist terrorist and other lawless elements in the community whose only objective is to exploit the vulnerability of the IP community, “Sama – sama nating itakwil ang mga masasamang elemento ng ating komunidad at ang terroristang grupo ng New People’s Army, upang makamit ang tamang reporma at progresibong pagbabago ng ating mga katutubo.”
The IP – YLS, is one of the IP empowerment activities regularly conducted by NOLCOM. The establishment of its IP Affairs Desk (IPAD) last January 12, 2021, aims to fast track coordination and help facilitate efficient delivery of government services and implementation of government projects to the different IP communities in Northern and Central Luzon. Headquarters NOLCOM has been engaged in several IP engagement activities, including the Tribal Chieftains’ Summit on March 20, 2021, which was participated in by 15 Tribal Chieftains and 20 IP Mandatory Representatives.
With almost 30% of the IP population in the country residing in the areas of Northern and Central Luzon, NOLCOM is committed to its campaign against the exploitation of the indigenous people.