The country’s insurgency problem is rooted on widespread corruption that has denied rural communities the necessary infrastructure, proper education and decent livelihood, Senator Manny Pacquaio said Saturday as he was formally presented with some 130 Communist Party of the Philippines- New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) surrenderees at the 88th Infantry Battalion Headquarters in Maramag, Bukidnon.
Senator Pacquaio, who holds a rank of Colonel as an Army reservist, said many rural folks especially the “lumads” are easily lured to turn against the government because of the absence of a sustainable government support for their communities.
” Hindi nabibigyan ng.suporta ang ating mga lumad dahil sa matinding.kurapsyon. Yung mga pondo na napupunta dapat sa pagpapatayo ng mga paaralan, paglalagay ng mga kalsada sa kanayunan at pagbibigay ng kabuhayan at ay napupunta sa mga kurap at mga ganid na pulitiko. Kailangan nating ubusin itong mga kurap upang mas marami pang rebelde ang magbalik-loob sa ating pamahalaan,” Pacquiao explained.
” Nagkakaroon ng pagkakataon itong mga NPA na mag-recruit sa mga lumad communities sa kawalan ng kabuhayan at kawalan ng suporta sa edukasyon galing sa pamahalaan, ” he added.
Senator Pacquaio said that he has already coordinated with Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-Region 10 so that the surrenderees can access funding support from the government’s Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).
The surrenderees who mostly belong to tbe Manobo-Higaonon tribes that are prevalent in Central Mindanao will be given funding for rabbit farming.
Pacquiao said that investors from Davao City and General Santos City have already signed up to buy directly from the lumad surrenderees their live rabbit produce.
Pacquiao, who was born in a remote and mountainous barangay in Kibawe said that apart from livelihood, there is an urgent need to fastrack the government’s full implementation of Republic Act 8371 othewise known as the “The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997”.
He said that one pressing problem among lumad communities is the lack of housing despite clear provisions under RA 8371 that guarantees their right to their ancestral domain.
Pacquaio said that the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) should expedite the issuance of ancestral domain titles for the lumads as a gesture of the government’s commitment to help the IPs.
“Ang laganap na insurgency sa bansa ay bunga ng kapabayaan ng ating pamahalaan. Kailangan nating ang makatotohanang pagtulong para sa ating mga mahihirap upang mas magkaroon ng kapayapaan sa ating bayan,” Pacquiao said.
During the presentation of the 130 surrenderees that was facilitated by 88th Infantry Batallion Commander Lt. Col Chrisyian James Vingno, Pacquiao made a commitment that he would focus on streamlining the process of titling for ancestral lands would allocate funds to provide the needed agricultural support for lumad farming communities.
Several high-powered firearms that were surrended by the former rebels were also presenvarted to Pacquaio in a ceremonial turn-over ceremony.
Apart from the government’s cash-for-firearm program, Pacquiao said that rebel returnees must be given sustainable livelihood support.
Pacquaio said he has already instructed his office to coordinate with the Department of Agriculture (DA) for the “needs assessment” of the surrenderees which would allow him to determine the support that they actually need.
Pacquiao, who is also chair of the Senate Committee on Public Works said he will also ask the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to set aside funds for the construction of access road and post-harvest facilities for the communities of the rebel surenderees.
After receiving the rebel surenderees, Pacquaio proceeded to Brgy. Panadtalan to distribute grocery packs, Chooks-to-Go chicken and P1,000 cash to some 1,000 residents of the town Maramag.