Government, Private Sector Restores Ex-NPA Stronghold

CLAVERIA, Misamis Oriental – The Municipal Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict Lagonglong (MTF-ELCAC Lagonglong) and other stakeholders along with the 58th Infantry “Dimalulupig” Battalion, went to Sitio Kamansi, Barangay Banglay, Lagonglong, on July 02, 2021 to deliver commitments under the Restoring Communities, Changing Lives program, which aims to end local communist armed conflict in the particular far-flung area.

The event was attended by the local and provincial government, National Line Agencies and civil society organizations. Hon. Jay Albert C. Puertas, Mayor of Lagonglong, was represented by Hon. Albert Gabutan the Municipal Agriculturist, and Gov. Yevgeny Vincente “Bambi” Emano, Provincial Governor of Misamis Oriental, was represented by Hon. Frederick Khu, Board Member, 1st District, in gracing the said event. Partner agencies such as the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Provincial Agricultural Office (PAGRO), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Police Provincial Office Misamis Oriental (PPO-MisOr), and private stakeholders, such as Minergy Power Corporation (MPC), and First Community Cooperative (FICCO), were also in attendance.

It can be recalled that the NPAs used Sitio Kamansi as a guerilla base for many years. They deceived the populace to establish an organized guerilla stronghold to maintain control, influence, and initiative over political and economic components of the Lantad-Balatukan complex and surrounding municipalities.

In 2018, 58IB undertook a series of focused military operations to dismantle armed formations in So Kamansi and was then declared cleared in the same year by the Area Clearing Validation Board.

The 58IB continued to collaborate with other government agencies and private stakeholders in the first quarter of 2020 to continue provide basic services to the population of So Kamansi. Reaching out to the community and providing basic services has earned the trust and confidence of the residents, who have been encouraged to return to their homes. Since then, there has been an outpouring of support and assistance from a variety of organizations, all working together to bring life back to So Kamansi.

The turn-over ceremony of commitments from various agencies was the highlight of the activity, which included a water system worth Php 289,000 funded and constructed by FICCO and manned by MPC, a check worth Php1.2 million for an abaca processing facility and Php 300,000 worth of complementary healthy food for children, sacks of rice and upland seedlings from PAGRO, entrepreneurial training pledged by the DTI, and food packs and a serbisyo caravan which includes from LGU Lagonglong and PPO-MisOr.

Mr Jose Apollo Pacamalan, Provincial Agriculturist of Misamis Oriental stated, “This water system and the abaca processing facility are just one of the many projects to look forward to. And good news, the water system is not only for drinking water but also for your planting of crops, plants, etc. So, you see, the government is constantly planning and implementing these to finally put an end to armed conflict.”

Also, General Edgardo M Gurrea (Retired), Station Services Manager, MPC, shared his sentiments, “We in the private sector, we take seriously our social responsibility to people that is why we are constantly collaborating with the government. The realization of these projects is a collaborative effort of us between the private sector and the government sector. My only wish to the people of Kamansi and Barangay Banglay is that you take with utmost care and maintain these facilities given to you because our government is always looking after your needs and will reach out to private sectors like us to help resolve problems in the community, because after all, we are all stakeholders and wanting peace and development in our community.”

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Ricky L. Canatoy, Commanding Officer, 58IB, compared Kamansi’s circumstances before and currently. “We’ve hoped for Sitio Kamansi to be peaceful and free of armed conflict for many years. We began by conducting a series of focused military operations, gaining your trust and confidence in us, and as a result, you stopped supporting the NPAs. Many government entities have pledged their support for So Kamansi since then. In fact, the MTF-ELCAC Lagonglong was supposed to be launched last year, but it was postponed owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this did not deter the government from fulfilling its promises to the people. The water system, as well as the abaca processing facility, will now be turned over, and another project, the solar dryer, and road concreting projects, will be completed shortly. Our service in So Kamansi has not been interrupted amidst the covid-19 epidemic.”

I am grateful to you, Kamansi locals, for your trust and confidence in the government. Many programs and projects are in stored for you, including the entire healing and restoration of your home, as well as the government agencies and local government units’ Restoring Communities, Changing Lives initiative. We continue to do everything we can to resurrect what has been devastated by this insurgency problem. Please continue to have faith in our resolve to working together as one government.

Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to urge you, as those of you who still have relatives who are in the hinterlands, fighting for the wrong ideology, to encourage them to surrender now, in the folds of the law, if they visit you. I’ve brought four of our former rebels who were deceived into joining the armed conflict. Gradually, their lives are changing as a result of the government initiatives that have been provided to them, as well as the opportunity to return home and meet their family and reminisce about the good old days when Kamansi was still free of the NPAs. With the passage of time, we anticipate a large family reunion here in your home, Sitio Kamansi.

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