Army to increase detachments in Davao hinterland areas

October 14, 2009 9:29 pm 

DAVAO CITY, Oct. 15 — The 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army has committed to increase the number of detachments in the hinterland areas of the city to protect the tribal groups from the New People’s Army (NPA).

This was the offshoot of the conference dialogue between Lumad leaders and the 10th ID in Camp Panacan here on Wednesday.

The meeting was conducted to find solutions to the recent killings of tribal leaders blamed on the NPA. Similar dialogues were also held in Compostela Valley Province and Davao del Norte.

Colonel Eduardo del Rosario, 1003rd Brigade Commander, said they will increase the number of detachments in tribal areas up to 20 percent.

Del Rosario said currently, there are 50 detachments inside tribal areas.

He said the additional detachments will be the military’s way of saying they support and protect the tribal communities.

Del Rosario said the recent victim of the NPA was Datu Intoy Baguio, whose body was found on October 7 in a ravine in Barangay Callawa, Buhangin, one day after he was abducted.

Datu George Mandahay, chair of the Supreme Tribal Council for Peace and Development, urged the military to bring back the detachments that had been taken off the ancestral domain areas.

The request was immediately granted by 10th ID commander Major General Reynaldo Mapagu, who said new detachments, will be put up in strategic areas within the communities since the old ones cannot be brought back.

During the dialogue, the Lumad leaders also brought the strengthening of tribal leaders by integrating them as members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU).

The tribal leaders want to continue the training of "bahani" or tribal warriors for membership in the CAFGU, along with an increase in their allowance.

They also want a continuation of the five percent quota of Lumads to be trained as soldiers.

In response, del Rosario said Mapagu has already approved 10 tribal leaders to become CAFGUs by next year.

Meanwhile, on the issue of allowance, del Rosario said it is only Congress that has the power to increase it because CAFGU allowances are set by law. CAFGUs receive a P90 daily allowance or P2,700 monthly.

The tribal leaders also asked for assistance in the building of their tribal halls, for which the 10th ID pledged P10,000 for the building of 15 tribal halls which will be built by batch of fives on a quarterly basis.

Other requests brought up by the tribal leaders were the provision of food allowances to the detachments, scholarship and livelihood training assistance, financial assistance to victims of NPA killings, training of tribal leaders, and free PhilHealth membership for tribal leaders.

Del Rosario said these requests would be best addressed by the local government unit and asked the tribal leaders to bring these issues up when they meet with Vice Mayor Sara Duterte. (PNA) FFC/JSGD/lvp


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