TALACOGON, Agusan del Sur, Oct. 9 -- The members of Indigenous Peoples (IPs) from three 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 (AFP) through 401st Infantry Brigade and 26th Infantry Battalion during the recently held tribal forum.
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 showcased the cultural practices of the three major tribes, namely, Higaonon, Manobo and Banwaon, as well as promote the potential tourism sites, native products, local talents, beauty, and good local governance.
Municipal Mayor Leonida Manpatilan, assisted by the Municipal Indigenous People's Mandatory Representative (IPMR) Victor Manpatilan led the event. Col. Allan Hambala, 401st Infantry Brigade Commander and Lt. Col. Romeo Jimenea, commanding officer of 26th Infantry Battalion also attended the celebration, together with the supreme tribal leaders along with 168 members and representatives from the three tribal groups.
One of the major agenda discussed was the planned declaration of persona non-grata against the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army (CPP-NPA) in the municipality of Esperanza. "The IPs in Esperanza had already recognized the mayhem and disruption brought about by these 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," said Manpatilan.
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 IP brothers and sisters from different tribal groups, unite to support their LGU and the AFP to end the five 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 IPs 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 our differences in religious affiliation, traditions, and cultures, we should all be united to contribute to the success of EO No. 70 in eradicating the terrorist NPAs," Hambala ended. (1Lt. Krisjuper Andreo Punsalan, CMO officer, 3SFBn/PIA-Agusan del Sur)