More or less 500 Lumad residents, mostly students, benefited from the community outreach program initiated by the 56th Infantry Battalion in Lumabag Integrated School, Sitio Lumabag, Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod in Davao del Norte on Tuesday.
Capt. John Louie Dema-ala, the Civil-Military Operations officer of the 56th IB, said around 300 Lumad students received their backpacks loaded with complete sets of school supplies.
Dema-ala said a pair of slippers were also handed to the students. After the brief ceremony, the 300 Lumad kids and 200 parents were given food packs.
“We are here to make you (Lumad) feel that the government is working for your good and respecting your culture,” Dema-ala said.
Lt Col. Norman Valdez, the acting battalion commander, emphasized that the program was initiated purposely for the benefit of the Lumad brothers and sisters who are the most vulnerable to the exploitation and manipulation of the New People’s Army.
“Our intent is to give hope and inspiration to make them (Lumad) feel that they are not alone, that the government and other stakeholders are looking after them and committed to pursue peace and development efforts in their community,” Valdez said.
Valdez also praised the cooperation of the private sector, particular the Dalisay family, to make the activity a reality.