Striking a bargain: Bringing dev’t to remote villages in Davao Norte to end local communist conflict

Visits of high-ranking officials of the national and local governments are usually meant for indigenous people (IP) communities as an infusion of projects and other benefits, either in cash or in kind.

But the projects and services to IPs, especially to the Ata-Manobo of Talaingod town, extended by the office of Governor Edwin I. Jubahib have corresponding trade-offs to transform the living conditions of the IPs.

Jubahib made his latest pitch for a trade-off and bargain with IP communities during the rollout of the latest Local Peace Engagement (LPE) activity aimed at sustaining the peaceful situation now being experienced in this far-flung municipality, which used to be one of the lairs of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Services given

Some 3,000 Ata-Manobos of Talaingod town from more than 20 far-flung villages recently received their requested programs during the launch in Sitio Basak, Barangay Sto Nino of the Oplan Serbisyo sa Kalinaw, tagged as the latest LPE initiative of the Provincial Government of Davao del Norte.

Jubahib assured Ata-Manobo community members to open more roads to hinterland sitios in Talaingod, particularly in Laslasakan, Pongpong, Peroy, and Bato, which are approximately three-hour rides for government service vehicles from Tagum City, traversing through hilly and winding roads.

Other than the promise of more access

Provincial Governor Edwin Jubahib leads the hauling of various government services benefiting about 3,000 Ata-Manobo residents of more than far-flung villages, during the launch of Oplan Serbisyo sa Kalinaw done in Sitio Basak, Brgy Sto. Nino, Talaingod, Davao del Norte

roads and more schools, the governor led the hauling of pooled socio-economic, legal, agri, and health services from major offices of the Provincial Government while tagging along heads of some national line agencies to also deliver their respective services.

He brought sacks of “bihon”, bags of rice, and abaca seedlings while also giving away monetary incentives to those who perform tribal dances.

“Kining maong prorama talagsa lang kini mahitabo sa inyong kinabuhi,  ug kami misiba tungod nasabtan namo nga lisod alang kaninyo ang  pag-adto sa atong probinsiya aron mangayo ug tabang.  (This program rarely happens in your lifetime, and we come here because we understand that it is difficult for you to go to the province to seek help),” Jubahib said to the crowd in a program held during the caravan of services.

Governor Jubahib banks on the support of IP community elders as he calls on IPs to change the way the work to earn a living

Pledges made

While Jubahib enumerated some government projects he could readily work on, someone shouted “balay (house)” among the crowd, to which the governor optimistically responded with the affirmation that more housing units would be constructed for them.

On top of bringing the housing projects of the National Housing Authority (NHA) and that of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU), Jubahib said the provincial government shall purchase materials to construct houses through “bayanihan.”

“Ang probinsya mopalit ug materiales, motabang mo ug panday ha (The province will buy the materials; you have to help in the construction.),” he emphasized to the cheering crowd.

Jubahib further informed then about Talaingod Mayor Jonie Libayao’s ongoing work on the Rural Health Unit (RHU) building. He mentioned that its completion could facilitate the delivery of health services to remote communities.

The Bargain

After expressing his commitments, the governor encouraged Indigenous Peoples (IP) leaders and household heads to consider limiting their number of children to only three.

“Kung daghan ug anak lisod ang pag-asenso (With a number of children, it would be hard to progress.), he said. “Gusto nako mahayahay mo’g kahimtang.. ug daghan mo anak daghang gastuhan sa pag eskwela (I want you to experience ease in life. When you have a number of children, you’d have many to send to school),” he added.

Meanwhile, Jubahib encouraged the Ata-Manobo men to become more industrious and to take advantage of their vast tract of ancestral lands, especially now that the national and local governments are bringing in agriculture services

“Hangyo lang ko sa inyoha, dapat mag kugi jud mo, dapat trabaho jud, undanga na nang inum (I am asking you to exert more effort, you should work; stop that drinking spree),” he told the crowd which responded with laughter.

He then asked Datu Andigao to join him on stage as he called on all male members of the Ata-Manobo communities to shift from their usual way of depending on the women to do all the household chores and take care of the children while also tending their farms.

“Kinahanglan magkugi na ang lalaki, wala na senyorito, senyorito. Ang  mga lalaki maoy makingkamot para maka income ang mga pamilya (The men should work to earn income for the family),” he said.

Joint effort for peace

Jubahib pitched this call for IP men to actively take part in the household economy as he wanted them to understand that the government alone cannot provide for all the needs of each individual in their communities.

“Dili pwede nga ang gobyerno lang ang maniingkamot para  sa kabag-uhan sa inyong panginabuhi, kundili gikahanglan nga motabang pud mo sa atong gobyerno. Joint effort. Tabangay ta para makab-ot nato ang dali nga pag-asenso dinhi sa iyong pamilya dinhi sa talaingod (It should not be the sole responsibility of the government to change your living conditions, but you need to help the government. It is a joint effort. We should help each other to achieve progress in your family here in Talaingod),” Jubahib said.

On top of what he wanted to bargain for in exchange for government projects and services, Jubahib urged them to get rid of NPA rebels in Talaingod and to surrender any one of their family members who remained under the cuddles of the rebels.

“Gikinahanglan nga wala nay NPA sa Talaingod (There should be no NPA in Talaingod),”he emphasized.

“I-bolunter ninyo nga isurender sa 56th IB. Ingna sila nga undang na mo diha kay wala jud natabang sila sa atong pamilya (You volunteer them to surrender to the 56th IB (infantry battalion). Tell them to leave the NPA because they’ve not been of any help to our family),” Jubahib said, referring to the Philippine Army command that secures the entire municipality of Talaingod and the peripheral areas of San Fernando, Bukidnon. (JMDA/PIA XI Davao del Norte)

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