By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte reiterated his commitment to help Indigenous Peoples (IPs) as he renewed his vow to provide assistance for their livelihood.
In a speech in Davao City, Duterte pledged to provide the Lumads with tractors and seedlings but asked them to take good care of the equipment.
“I will help you survive, but you have to start now. I will give you assistance to cultivate your lands,” Duterte said in Bisaya.
“By taking care of your equipment it will function as it was intended to and last longer,” he added.
Last month, Duterte announced that the government would release P100 million to tribal communities in Mindanao.
He also vowed to facilitate the entry of investors and government assistance to tribal areas for them to develop and secure sustainable livelihood.
“Mag-release ako ng P100 million, temporary, pangtawid ninyo sa normalcy. ‘Yun ang gamitin ninyo (I will release P100 million, temporary, which you can use to transition to normalcy. Use that.),” Duterte said.
“You have to learn something, a skill to help your family,” he added.
Stop supporting NPA
Meanwhile, Duterte also asked the Lumads to stop supporting the New People’s Army (NPA) as he was presented with 35 former members of the NPA.
It was reported that 10 of the 35 were members of the NPA sparrow unit, and 16 are active NPA rebels who were operating in the provinces of Bukidnon, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, North Cotabato, and Davao del Norte.
Twenty-nine firearms were surrendered by 26 rebel returnees, while nine active NPA rebels surrendered without firearms.
Duterte earlier announced that his government would recruit qualified tribe people to become members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to fend off the influence of communist insurgents in Lumad areas.
He also offered to pay Lumads P20,000 each to kill NPA members amid the plight of the lumads who are seeking for protection from abuse.
Duterte also offered to train IPs for three months as Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) to get back at those who killed their comrades.
“Give me about three months, I will train them as CAFGU and give them firearms and go out and hunt for those who killed their comrades,” the Chief Executive had said last month.