MARAMAG, Bukidnon, Aug. 23 (PIA)—Aimed at helping indigenous peoples (IP) children hurdle the daily woes in going to school on foot for three hours, the 88th Infantry “Maringal” Battalion (88IB) of the Philippine Army together with Quezon local government unit (LGU) and 524th Engineering Construction Battalion, build an IP school in Purok 8, Magsaysay, Quezon, Bukidnon.
The Engineering Battalion also worked on the rehabilitation of the four-kilometer farm-to-market road in barangay Magsaysay, which is in response to the IP community’s needs based on the validation and assessment by the Community Support Program (CSP) team of 88IB.
The said two infrastructure projects were funded by Quezon LGU and the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) being implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). The Philippine Army will soon turn over this two-classroom school building to the Department of Education.
LtCol. Franklin Fabic, Commanding Officer of 88IB, disclosed that the Engineering Battalion started the construction last April 6 after the community denounced their support to the New People’s Army (NPA). He said this task also led other government agencies to converge and do their share in achieving peace and development in identified Conflict-Affected Areas (ConAAs) and Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAS).
He added that the Army’s Community Support Program (CSP) is helping the local government in the conduct of rapid ‘needs assessment’ for projects that will alleviate the living condition of residents and identify the needs of the populace, thus, bringing development in the area.
The CSP team’s validation report showed that the absence of school and farm-to-market road in the area were used by CPP-NPA as propaganda in recruiting IPs to join the terrorist movement and in radicalizing the community.
In 2019, the 88IB dealt with the influx of NPA rebels from the said community who surrendered and availed of the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP). These former rebels (FRs) then provided vital information on the whereabouts of other communist-terrorists in the area that resulted in the series of the government troops’ successful encounters, incapacitation of the terrorist leaders, seizure of NPA hideouts, and capture of numerous firearms and war materials.
In fact, a former rebel and a newly graduated CAFGU Active Auxilliary a.k.a Toto, said in dialect, “Dako kaayo ko ug pasalamat kay daghan nabag-o sa akong kinabuhi paghuman namo ug surrender. Natagaan ko’g assistance ug gitagaan pa gyod ko ug trabaho. Pasalamat pud ko kay gitagaan pa mi’g dalan ug eskwelahan. Tanan namo nga lakaw padulong sa sentro sa barangay kay dali na. Imbis tulo ka oras, karon tunga nalang sa oras. Dako sad ko ug pasalamat kay gihimo-an na gyud ug skwelahan among mga bata. Dati, pag abot sa barangay, kung asa ila eskwelahan kay manga-on na dayon tapos matulog. Walay klaro ang pag adto nila sa eskwelahan. Pero karon kay naa na dapit sa among duol. Maka-eskwela na gyud sila ug tarong.”
(I thanked the government for the help. After we submitted ourselves to the authorities, my life has changed. The government gave me livelihood assistance and a CAA job. Our kids will no longer have to walk for hours from home to school because of the newly built two-classroom building. And finally, the three-hour walk from home to barangay proper now takes only half an hour (via motorcycle) because of the rehabilitation of the four-kilometer farm-to-market road)
In a statement, Mayor Pablo Lorenzo III of Quezon town said “Mapasalamaton ang lokal nga pangagamhanan sa lungsod sa Quezon tungod sa pag-atiman ug pag-ayo sa dalan sa Purok 8, barangay Magsaysay. Usa kini ka bililhong gasa alang sa pagsiguro sa kahapsay ug kalinaw sa lungsod. Padayon nga nakig-alayon ang lokal nga kagamhanan sa Quezon para sa maayong kaugmaon sa katawhan.
Fabic, likewise said, “Let this be the start of a new life in your village. These projects and programs are proof of the government’s commitment to winning the peace and attaining development in far-flung communities. Let us protect these projects for a bright future of our younger generation.” (CMO, 88IB, 4ID, PA/PIA Bukidnon)