DAVAO CITY–President Rodrigo Duterte has allocated a total of P260 million as housing and agriculltural assistance for the lumads in Mindanao.
He announced this Thursday during the Panagtagbo Alang sa Kalinaw ug Kalambuan at the Eastern Mindanao Command headquarters before close to 1,000 lumad leaders from Regions 10, 11, 12, and 13.
It was the President’s initiative to meet with lumads to listen to their problems confronting their communities such as security and lack of economic opportunities.
The President said P100 million is allocated for agricultural assistance and P160 million for housing.
He directed the Department of Agriculture and the National Housing Authority to start the process of helping the lumads.
“I preparar ninyo ang inyong kaugalingon para sa inyong eventual relocation – temporary. Kung gusto ninyo a permanent one then I will find work for you. Mag lista ta (You prepare yourselves for an eventual relocation – temporary. If a permanent one I will look work for you. We will list up), he told them.
He vowed to find investors for their land if they agree, saying there are investors looking for land to establish a palm oil industry, especially in Andap Valley or the Apo-Talomo area where the Ata, Bagobo, and Dibabaonons are.
If the lumads of Caraga, Surigao and Agusan do not want mining, then he would not allow mining investors in their area.
If those in Malapatan, Alabel and Sarangani want agriculture, he will give it to them. “I will be the one to help you look for investors,” he promised.
The lumads were also offered skills training.
Dissociate from NPA
This as the President urged them to distance and disassociate themselves from the members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
“Distansya mo sa NPA. Ayaw mo pakig away (You distance yourselves from the NPA. Do not fight them,” he said.
He stressed that the NPA does not help but only kill them and extort money from the lowly communities. “If you live in fear you better die,” he said.
The President admitted the lumads were not given attention for the longest time. “But there was never an occasion you were oppressed and brutalized,” Duterte stressed.
“Ginagamit lang mo. Ang inyong maani diha bitok ug malaria (You are just being used. You have nothing to harvest but worms and malaria disease),” he pointed out.
Duterte further asked them to trust the military as he committed to helping the lumads improve their lot.
The President emphasized that the NPA’s only aim is to destroy the government.
In an interview, Lito Linao, an Obo-Manobo from Marilog, Davao City, admitted the lumads cannot fight the NPA. He said it is difficult facing them and revealed that some members of their community were being killed by the NPA.
Linao said he would support the President’s direction for their communities. (Lilian C. Mellejor/PNA)