IP Community in Malitbog to Receive Potential Billion-peso Investment

CLAVERIA, Misamis Oriental – The 58th Infantry Dimalulupig Battalion in coordination with the municipality of Malitbog and AgriNurture, Inc. (ANI) facilitated a Free Prior Information Consent (FPIC) activity at Sitio Kagahuman, Barangay San Luis, Malitbog, Bukidnon, July 15, 2021.

The said activity was graced by the Local Government Unit of Malitbog headed by Hon. Osmundo N. Dela Rosa, Municipal Mayor and Hon. Cindy E. Aritrangco, Municipal Vice Mayor, legal representatives of Impahanong-Amusig-Higaonon Tribal Council (IAHTCO), and the representatives from AgriNurture, Inc. (ANI).

ANI is a publicly traded agro-commercial company based in the Philippines that specializes in the export and trading of organic produce from the Philippines, such as fresh vegetables, fruits, and grains, to the rest of the globe. ANI reached out to 58IB to recommend an Indigenous Peoples (IP) community where they could invest long-term developments while ensuring the project’s peace and security; and Sitio Kagahuman of Barangay San Luis in Malitbog was recommended for the said project.

Sitio Kagahuman is a remote site and the last Sitio in Barangay San Luis, which means it is far from town, with tough terrain and no concrete roads, making it almost impossible to reach by government services; and making it a vulnerable and excellent location for NPAs’ lair. Despite this, the community has never had a friendly relationship with the Communist Terrorist Groups over the years. Sitio Kagahuman is recognized for its “maka gobyernong” identity, and whenever NPA terrorists try to infiltrate the Sitio, the sitio leader immediately informs government authorities. The Sitio’s people’s principle and dignity are absolutely remarkable and admirable. Such tenacity in refusing to bow to the communist terrorists’ leadership is extraordinary and exceptional.

ANI explained the project’s main points during the FPIC activity, which include partnering with IPs in Sitio Kagahuman to help produce an alternative staple food, BigMa, a rice-corn blend, by using their vast tracts of idle land to plant white corn as an alternative to reduce reliance on imported rice, thereby ensuring the country’s food security. From planting to commercialization, ANI will be responsible for all investments and technical expertise required to ensure the project’s success. According to ANI, the project will not begin unless the tribe gives its blessing; area identification and delineation for the project site will be done by the IPs; and after the 25-year contract, if they want to renew, they can; if not, all infrastructures will be turned over and owned by the IP community. Because they own the property, the IPs of Sitio Kagahuman will be the business partners, and the workforce will come from the tribe or as recommended by tribal leadership.

“I know you have been suffering for a long time, there has been no road, there is now, but the road is very difficult,” Hon. Osmundo N. Dela Rosa stated. But, despite the circumastances, you continued to trust and support our government, and for that, I extend my heartfelt gratitude. Because without your trust and cooperation, it would be very difficult for us to manage change and developments in this Sitio if you secluded yourself from the rest of us and turned your backs on the government. It truly begins with you. I would also like to thank the 58IB for its unwavering assistance and support in looking after our constituents, as well as ANI for providing us with this life-changing opportunity. Your vision, which was inspired by President Duterte himself, not only creates job possibilities for individuals, but also promotes community and municipal growth.”

Lt. Col. Ricky L Canatoy, Commanding Officer of 58IB, remarked, “I am particularly astonished by the people here in Kagahuman because, despite the difficulty and their conditions, no paved roads, no power, they never joined or backed the CTGs in any way.” Instead, they chose to do the right thing and never rebelled against the government. They never gave in to the terrorists’ demands, even if it meant risking their lives. They persisted and maintained their faith in the government. That is the most crucial point. This is why they are deserving of being a part of such a transformative endeavor. Other agencies, as well as the patrol base that has been built here to preserve peace and order in the Sitio, are looking after your wellbeing and delivering livelihood interventions. Thank you for your dedication to the government, which has resulted in these results. All I ask is that you keep putting your trust in us. Nothing makes me happier than seeing you eagerly cooperate and work with us. Let us continue to work together to bring this armed conflict to a close and see our community thrive in the years ahead.”

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