TALACOGON, Agusan Del Sur – Members of Indigenous People from three (3) tribal groups in the Municipality of Esperanza, Agusan del Sur unite as they joined the Local Government Unit of Esperanza and the Armed Forces of the Philippines through 401st Infantry Brigade and 26th Infantry Battalion during a Tribal Forum conducted last Wednesday afternoon, September 25.
The said activity was one of the major highlights of the 2nd Nalandang Festival and 66th Founding Anniversary celebration of Esperanza with the theme “Pagpukaw sa Kulturuhanong Kabilin alang sa Pangkatibuk-ang Kaugmaran”. The celebration showcases the cultural practices of the three (3) major tribes, Higaonon, Manobo and Banwaon, as well as promotes the potential tourism sites, native products, local talents, beauty and good local governance.
The tribal forum was spearheaded by Municipal Mayor Leonida Manpatilan assisted by the Municipal IPMR Hon. Victor Manpatilan. Col Allan D Hambala, 401st Infantry Brigade Commander and Lt Col Romeo C Jimenea, Commanding Officer of 26th Infantry Battalion attended the celebration together with the supreme tribal leaders along with one hundred sixty eight (168) members and representatives from the three (3) tribal groups.
One of the major agenda discussed was the planned declaration of persona non grata against the CPP-NPA in the municipality of Esperanza supported, initiated and cooperated by the tribal groups. “The lumads in Esperanza had already recognized the mayhem and disruption brought about by this leftist radicals. As the chief local executive of this municipality, it is my sworn duty to take necessary actions in support of the national mandate to end local communist armed conflict”, Hon Leonida Manpatilan, Esperanza's municipal mayor said.
With the intensified implementation of Executive Order No.70 which is the “Whole of Nation Approach” to end local communist armed conflict, every local government unit is given responsibility to contribute to this national mandate. “It is overwhelming to witness that our lumad brothers and sisters from different tribal groups, unite to support their LGU and the AFP to end the five (5) decades of armed conflict in order to achieve long lasting peace and development”, Lt Col Jimenea said as he expressed his heartfelt gratitude to all the attendees.
Likewise, Col Hambala lauded all the lumads for the decision and action they had done. “We have to work hand in hand to resolve the root cause of armed conflict in order to achieve lasting peace. These terrorist NPAs only bring violence and disorder to our communities. We are one with you in your call for justice to all the chaos done by these terrorists. They do not deserve a place in our community”, he said.
“Despite of our differences on religious affiliation, traditions and cultures, we should all be united to contribute to the success of EO No. 70 in eradicating the terrorist NPAs”, he ended.
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