Over 1,000 members of the Dibabawon tribe and residents gathered at the Poblacion gym in Laak town on Saturday to express their full support of the government’s campaign against the New People’s Army within their ancestral domain.
1Lt Amadeuz VJ Celestial, the civil-military operations officer of the 60th Infantry Battalion, said the baganis (tribal warriors) were also joined by their respective tribal leaders and IP mandatory representatives.
Speaking in behalf of all its members, elected Bagani president, Datu Galope Davao, said it is time for the communities to fight back to help end the five-decade hold of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
“Whether you are a Lumad, a Christian, or a Muslim, and whether you are a government official or an ordinary citizen, we are all Filipinos who must fight our common enemy: the communist-terrorist group, CPP-NPA-NDF!” he said.
Municipal IPMR, Datu Gabriel Ente, thanked the local government unit and the military for empowering the tribal communities of the town.
Laak deputy mayor and municipal tribal chieftain, Datu Segundo Ocmay, said that they intend to continue organizing the rest of their IP brothers to help the government succeed in driving away the NPAs from their ancestral domain.
In response, Laak Vice Mayor Mark Anthony Libuangan said that while they support that tribes in protecting their lands, they must also abide by the national laws and local ordinances.
Libuangan acknowledged that while the baganis have been there since time immemorial, this was the first time in recent memory that they have all gathered in one place to rally behind a common goal.
“This is a very commendable initiative. Rest assured that your local government will be right with you through all your efforts,” Libuangan said.
Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Ronaldo Sarmiento, 60th IB commander, reiterated the crucial role of the local community, whether IP or non-IP, in the success of the goverment’s anti-insurgency campaign. He particularly commended the tribal leaders for “taking action now and thinking about [their] communities’ development and future.”