Government urges Surigao del Norte rebels to return to civilian life

The Philippine government through Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus G. Dureza, urged the members of New People’s Army (NPA) in Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte, to stop fighting the government so that development can continue in the area.

“What President Rodrigo Roa Duterte wants is for us to stop fighting. Let’s stop killing each other. Let’s be united instead,” Dureza said.

“Come back to the folds of the law wholeheartedly. The President is giving you a lot of support,” Dureza said.

The Municipality of Gigaquit has been known as corridors of local insurgents in Surigao del Norte for decades.

As part of government’s emphasis on working on peace and development simultaneously, a bridge that passes through the three barangays of Lahi, Sico-Sico, and Camam-onanin Gigaquit was inaugurated on August 28, 2018.

The project will benefit more than 3,000 residents by giving them access to socio-economic services carried out by the national and local government. The bridge will also give local farmers and residents better access to market sites.

Peace cannot be sustained if the lives of people are not improved. “Conversely, you cannot also sustain development without peace. It should be hand-in-hand,” Dureza said.

Surigao del Norte Governor Sol Matugas extended her gratitude to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) for funding the project through the 2015 PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA) Program – calling the completed project “Bridge of Hope” (Tulay nan Paglaum).

“This bridge will serve as the way for visitors. Many projects will be brought here so that residents can live in peace and prosperity,” Matugas said.

Speaking on behalf of the Mamanwa Tribe within the community, Datu Emilliano Jede recalled how their people endured walking for one whole day just to reach the town proper.

“We used to spend a whole day walking to the town. With this road, we can reach it in a short time,” Jede said.

A total of P210 million was allocated for the implementation of the project. OPAPP tapped the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) as implementing partner.

The inauguration, which coincided with the launch of Caraga Peace and Development Zones that includes Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur, was attended by about 300 locals from Barangay Sico-sico and representatives from OPAPP, DILG, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and the local government units.

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