Isolated community formally introduced to ‘real’ government

An isolated community with practically no access to government services and known to be a New People’s Army (NPA) lair was discovered by the 60th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippine (AFP).

It is called Sitio Tapayanon, a far-away highland found within the tri-boundaries of Bukidnon, Agusan del Sur and Davao del Norte and a home of Ata Manuvu who were ‘introduced’ to a government run by the NPAs. 

60th IB Civil Military Operation (CMO) officer Leuitenant Amadeuz Vincent John Celestia, during the AFP-PNP Press Corps Media Briefing held at the Royal Mandaya Hotel on Wednesday, April 10, said they discovered the place when they pursued members of the Communist Party of the Philippines -New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) during an encounter some time in March.

The AFP has never entered the area, said Celestial, as it is the boundary of their Area of Responsibility (AOR) and obviously used as a safe haven by the CPP-NPA.

Celestial said the community has existed over a hundred years but it never had a chance to relish a government service ever since as it is a week of walk away from Bukidnon proper.

“We only used choppers (hellicopter) to go there back and forth. A native of Sitio Tapayanon took more than 10 hours of walk to reach the land,” he said.

Rebels introduced themselves as the government and had control of the people of Sitio Tapayanon until the forces of government officially ‘reclaimed’ the isolated land.

Celestial said they stayed in the area for a month and provided services for the community like food, medication among others.

After the invasion, the government is now looking on how to deliver basic government services including education, medication among others in the marginalized community.

Sitio Tapayanon is also being assessed on whether it belongs to Bukidnon, Agusan del Sur and Davao del Norte.

Celestial, however, said they are most likely to belong to Davao del Norte since Ata Manuvu originated in that province.