Former NPA-infested community goes through community healing, reconciliation and transformation

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Lupon, Davao Oriental –— Aiming to uproot the decades-long dark and violent history of the community in the hands of the Communist Party of the Philippines — New People’s Army — National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), a 6-day community healing, reconciliation and transformation was recently held at Sitio Malig, Barangay Don Mariano Marcos in Lupon, Davao Oriental.

This is the third community healing process that happened in the province that took place on March 20-25, 2021. It followed Sitio Sigang and Sitio Logdeck in Barangay Maragatas, Lupon last December.

Sitio Malig is known to be one of the priority barangays in the province in terms of insurgency as it is highly vulnerable to the threats of the communist group.

To completely remove the influence and trauma inflicted to the residents by the Communist group, a team comprised of the members of the Philippine Army, Revitalized Police sa Barangay (RPSB), and  a former NPA called “Lola” who is now an advocate for peace and nation-building —led the 6-day intervention that follows the Christian doctrine where they get the residents to: (1) admit their guilt of their sins against the government; (2) confess to the government; (3) be sorry and promise not to do it again; and (4) take an oath of allegiance to the Philippine flag, the Constitution and to the Philippine government.

Apart from the support coming from the municipal and provincial government, Sitio Malig is also one of the barangays that will benefit from the Barangay Development Program which will grant former NPA-infested and currently cleared communities P20 million-worth of development projects.

Barangay Captain Juanita Napoles expressed gratitude for the support showered to Barangay Don Mariano Marcos, especially in Sitio Malig, which she promised will receive most of the allotted budget for much-needed projects such as road construction and foot-bridge building.

“This is a manifestation that the government cares. For so long, you have been lured to support the communist group because you are told you are neglected. That is not the case today,” Napoles added.

Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict Vice-Chairman Mr. Ednar Dayanghirang also graced the event and encouraged the participants never to allow the communist group to reign in their area again.

“You have come this far. For wanting development, you sided with the rebel group, but there would be no true development without peace,” he said.

One of the highlights of the process was the pledge of the residents to turn their backs on the communist group, vowing to be loyal to the government.

The ceremony was led by the Chairman of the PTF-ELCAC himself, Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang, who expressed his delight at seeing how the residents of Sitio Malig have openly committed to give their support back to the government.

He shared that it was his first time to visit the sitio because he has always known that it was influenced by the rebel group then. But due to the President’s Executive Order 70 or Whole-of-Nation Approach to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, projects and services were brought to the remote areas and sitios that helped in making the people feel the government.

“I always think that peace allows everything to follow through. There would be no development without peace. And peace cannot be achieved without your cooperation. Let us work together to achieve the peaceful and developed sitio we all wish to live in,” Governor Dayanghirang said.

The governor also stated the importance of the healing, reconciliation and transformation process in sustaining peace and order in the community.

“Peace has come but healing, reconciliation and transformation have to set-in to uproot the scars of the armed violence and the long and inter-generational Maoist communist indoctrination,” he added.

The Governor also received two (2) rebel surrenderees and seven (7) improvised devices turned over through “Lola”.

The closing ceremony of the 6-day healing, reconciliation and transformation process was also graced by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Provincial Director  Orle Cabaobao, the Acting Provincial Director of the Provincial Police Office Police Colonel Efren Orlina, Battalion Commander of the 66th Infantry Battalion Lt. Col. Julius Munar, Lupon Mayor Erlinda Lim represented by Councilor Edna Bote, Revitalized Pulis sa Barangay, and other men-in-uniform.

Post-activity assessment will be done to improve the program to make the community healing a better program for the other communities that need it.-PIO/DavOr

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