BUTUAN CITY – The recent move by Mamanwa tribe leaders in Agusan del Norte and parts of Surigao del Norte declaring the communist New People’s Army (NPA) persona non grata would protect the ancestral lands and communities of indigenous peoples (IPs) in the area, the military said Thursday.
“You can protect yourselves as you are protecting your communities. We can join together in protecting the IP communities in Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Norte areas,” Maj. Roger Gervasa, the Army’s 29th Infantry Battalion executive officer, said in a statement.
The unit was among the witnesses when leaders of the Mamanwa tribe gathered last July 16 in Jabonga, Agusan del Norte for a convention and the declaration of the NPA rebels as “unacceptable and unwelcome individuals” in their ancestral lands and communities.
Among the options that the IP leaders can take in protecting their communities is for their members to join the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) Active Auxiliaries (CAA), the statement read.
“We have quota for our CAAs. In this way, you can protect yourselves aside from rejecting the NPA and pushing them out of your area by not supporting them,” Gervasa said.
Marlon Bosantog, the regional director of the National Commission on Indigenous People in the Caraga Region, welcomed the declaration made by the tribe.
“The tribe, unified in one voice and organization, can say no to insurgency and prevent the NPA rebels from entering their communities,” Bosantog said.
He also urged the Mamanwa leaders to help the government defeat the insurgency in Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Norte areas.
“Development projects of local government units and line agencies for your communities are hampered by NPA rebels. The solution to end the insurgency is in the hands of the elders of ancestral domains,” Bosantog said.
Agusan del Norte 2nd District Rep. Maria Angelica Amante-Matba said the NPA exploits the tribes’ disagreements and disputes.
She added that it is only through unity that the Mamanwa leaders can counter the NPA threats to their communities.
The Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. (PNA)