Tribal leaders and Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representatives (IPMR) from Northern and Central Luzon have vowed to support the government in promoting peace and development to the native cultural communities.
During the Tribal Chieftains’ Summit held at the headquarters of the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) in Tarlac on March 20, 2021, the tribal leaders said they are ready to cooperate with the government in its peace and development efforts.
“Kaming mga tribal leaders ay kaakibat po ng ating pamahalaan at handang makipagtulungan upang tuluyang wakasan ang problema sa New People’s Army (NPA), para magbigay daan sa kapayapaan at kaunlaran ng aming komunidad (We, tribal leaders are partners of our government and are ready to work together to finally end the New People’s Army (NPA) problem that would pave the way for peace and development in our communities),” Liza Balario, the IPMR of Barangay Duhawen, San Marcelino, Zambales, said in a social media post.
Balario is one of the 20 IPMRs and 15 tribal chieftains who attended the two-day Tribal Chieftains’ Summit jointly facilitated by the Nolcom and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in Region 3 (Central Luzon).
The summit was conducted to capacitate the participants in coping with various issues besetting the country which include the threat of local communist terrorists and coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, while empowering them to become proactive leaders in their respective communities.
Balario thanked the organizers of the event for giving them the opportunity to acquire new knowledge that they can share with their respective constituents.
“Kami po ay nagpapasalamat sa Nolcom at sa NCIP sa pagbuo ng mga ganitong programa, kung saan kaming mga tribal leaders at mga IPMR ay nakakakuha ng mga bagong kaalaman na maaari naming ipamahagi sa aming kanya-kanyang komunidad (We are thankful to Nolcom and NCIP for developing such programs, where we tribal leaders and IPMR gain new knowledge that we can share with our respective communities),” she said.
Meanwhile, tribal governor Rolando Manuel Rivera, NCIP Commissioner for Luzon, said sustainable development cannot be realized without peace.
“Kung walang kapayapaan, walang development. Kaya unahin natin ang kapayapaan at hangarin natin ito ng buong puso. Huwag natin kalabanin ang ating pamahalaan (Without peace, there is no development. So let us prioritize peace and seek it with all our heart. Let us not oppose our government),” Rivera said.
He encouraged the participants to be proactive in their respective communities.
“Ang pagsisilbi ay isang pagsasakripisyo. Dapat ang isang lider ay nakahandang magsakripisyo at pangunahan ang kanyang mga nasasakupan patungo sa tamang landas at patungo sa kapayapaan at kaunlaran (To serve is a sacrifice. A leader must be willing to sacrifice and lead his constituents towards the right path and towards peace and prosperity),” he added.
Lt. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo B. Burgos Jr., Nolcom commander, said the summit was held following the command’s activation of the Indigenous People Affairs Desk with deputy commander Brig. Gen. Henry Doyaoen as its general officer in charge, being an IP community member himself.
“Through the activity, we are sending a strong message to the members of the IP communities in Northern and Central Luzon that the government is here for them, contrary to the propaganda of the communist terrorists whose only objective is to prey upon the vulnerabilities of our indigenous people and sow terror in their communities,” Burgos said.
The NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (Zorayda Tecson, PNA)