CABANGLASAN, Bukidnon, July 9 -- In a bid to contribute to the government's peacekeeping efforts, the Department of Agriculture in Northern Mindanao (DA-10) recently accorded farm inputs assistance to the conflict-affected areas of Sitios Tumbaga, Tagbakan, Katablaran and Saluringan, all of barangay Canangaan in Cabanglasan town, Bukidnon province.
During the turnover ceremony held at the town center, community leaders received a total of 100 bags of hybrid corn seeds worth P500,000 as crop production assistance that can cover at least 50 hectares of land.
Lt. Sancho S. Tomaquin, Charlie Company Commander, 88th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, said the recipients are among those nearly 200 displaced individuals who fled from their farmlands and homes due to an armed encounter between the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) and the government troops two weeks ago.
Since June of this year, the army official reported that they have set off to the municipality of Cabanglasan to conduct its Community Support Program (CSP), particularly in barangays Paradise, Mandahican, Mandaing, Cabulohan and Canangaan.
Of the five barangays that the army's CSP troops have assessed, it showed that most of the enemies are in the hinterlands of Canangaan, who have set up camps in the sitios.
"From here, we have undertaken our CSP to clear the area from being NPA-infested. After the operations, we need to sustain the peace and order situation for development to come through. Once absent ang basic services, talagang magre-rebelde ang tao," Tomaquin asserted.
In particular, he explained that the CSP aims to bring people back to the fold of the government while empowering communities through a synergy of development efforts among soldiers, government agencies, and the local governments.
Further, he emphasized that such initiative uses the whole-of-nation approach to end the local communist armed conflict in attaining inclusive and sustainable peace, as provided in President Duterte's Executive Order No. 70.
"Hindi maganda ang nangyari, but we can turn the negative into positive. Mas nakikita talaga ng gobyerno kung sino talaga ang dapat pagtuunan ng pansin," he said, recognizing the downpour of agri-interventions from DA-10.
Meanwhile, DA-10 OIC-Provincial Operations Chief of Bukidnon Janet D. Lopez corroborated the army official's statement saying that despite encountering setbacks, a blessing has come thru the additional farm inputs.
"This [100 bags of hybrid corn seeds] is on top of the 300 bags that were previously handed over to Cabanglasan town. Such reinforcement is eyed to drum up the municipality's corn production," she explained.
Based on reports of the local agriculture office, as of June 2020, there are 4,408 corn farmers, cultivating 5,937 hectares with an annual average production of 6.4 metric tons, specifically for hybrid corn.
"We, at the department, encourage you to form a group, as this will be instrumental in gaining more access and availing of assistance from the government such as DA," Lopez added.
Such declaration is also opportune, as the government troops are set to assist the locals in the affected Sitios to fully organize and have them registered with the Department of Labor and Employment, Lt Tomaquin said.
"Kini nga grasya nga atong nadawat karon bisag simple ug gamay, dakong panghinaot nga kung kana atong ampingan ug atong itanom ug ipahiluna ang atong umahan, basin mao nani sinugdanan sa pag arang-arang sa atong kahimtang (This assistance we received, though small, must be used properly in our farms to improve our living condition) ," Kagawad on Committee on Agriculture Claudio Canillas also avowed.
After about a week of taking shelter in schools at barangay San Vicente and Iba, which was realized via the convergence of efforts from the provincial down to the municipal governments, the army official left and posed the affected residents a challenge as they can now return to their homes.
"Nagbigay lang man din tayo ng binhi, sana yung tinatanim natin yung binhi ng kapayapaan...hindi lang sana ito manatiling binhi, magyabong sana ito. Isang binhi lang yan pero kung nagbunga yan, mas marami pang binhi nga maitatanim natin na kakalat ang kapayapaan. Yung itinatamin ngayon nga kapayapaan, alagaan nila, pagyabungin nila hanggang mamunga at itanim ulit nang sa gayon ay dumami," Lt. Tomaquin stressed.
(We are giving you seeds but we hope we also plant the seed of peace that would flourish; as soon as it bears fruits, it will bring more seeds of peace. The seed of peace we plant today must be nurtured so that it will multiply.)
Also witnessing the ceremonial turnover are Cabanglasan Municipal Vice-Mayor Lolita N. Obsioma, Municipal Agriculturist Dr. Anita S. Macabugto and other local officials and employees, DA-10 Regional Corn Focal Person Richan D. Lacanaria, and Provincial Agriculturist Engr. Alson G. Quimba. (DA 10/PIA Bukidnon)