700 indigenous people vow to defend ancestral domain
DAVAO CITY—Almost 700 indigenous people in Davao Oriental vowed to defend their ancestral domain against the New People’s Army.
The IPs made the commitment during the Peace Volunteer program of the 67th Infantry Battalion, which conducted training and seminars in different areas in Davao Oriental to strengthen the community's defense against terrorist groups who will attempt to enter the IPs ancestral domain.
Lt. Col. Jake Obligado, 67th IB commander, said that they have been conducting trainings and seminars in Davao Oriental to help the IPs secure their place and strengthen the Indigenous Political structures.
Obligado said that the peace volunteers will protect their ancestral domain but the army will not arm them.
“These are all in accordance with the Indigenous People’s Rights Act and agreed by the tribal council, since we started this activity in April 2017, there is an 80 percent reduction of NPA members because of this,” Obligado said.
“The immediate effect of this is the reduction of the NPA, from February last year we have accounted 290+ members of NPA here in Davao Oriental but just this March they have reduced to 93,” he added.
Aside from the reduction of the NPA, Obligado said the Army is now close to 100 percent in clearing the barangays.
The military also recorded zero atrocities since July due to the peace volunteers.
“We have recorded zero atrocities since July last year and the number of surrenders has increased. Other barangays have also asked for peace volunteers training and seminar to also strengthen their community,” Obligado said.
The peace volunteers underwent five days of training in livelihood, government in action together with local and national agencies, people empowerment or the training as the first responders in times of disasters, and responsibility awareness.