Isolated Lumads hail gov’t attention, care

Vaccine. A Lumad child laughs away the pain of vaccine injection, during the 2nd Whole-of-Nation Service Convergence Camp in the isolated IP community of Sitio Tapayanon. Nobags

Davao del Norte – Residents of an isolated indigenous people community are grateful to the care and attention that the government is giving them.

Datu Bansing Balamban, Tribal Chieftain of Sitio Tapayanon, acknowledged the services and provisions being poured into their village by government agencies and charitable organizations, during the second multi-stakeholder service caravan.

“Nalipay kaayo kami sa mga serbisyo. Amo jung nabati karon nga gipangga jud mi sa gobyerno (We are very happy for the services. We now feel that the government truly cares for us),” he said.

Some 700 residents of the Lumad community, which was once a lair of the New People’s Army, benefitted from the two-batch Whole-of-Nation Service Convergence Camp from November 10-14, 2019.

Services include medical services, such as free check-up, medicines and vitamins, measles vaccine, deworming, family planning, pre-natal services to include fecal examination, urinalysis and blood typing, and food assistance to malnourished children and malaria prevention.

The camp also facilitated civil registration, social services to include household assessment for the Listahanan program, Geo Tagging, livelihood training, Alternative Learning System, mass tribal wedding, distribution of school supplies, relief foods and items, and tree planting, among other services.

Some 63 couples were also married in a traditional mass tribal wedding ceremony.

Due to its geographic isolation, tribal villagers of Sitio Tapayanon did not receive government services for about a hundred years, until it was discovered by troops of the army’s 60th Infantry Battalion while on combat operation last February 25, 2019.

The caravan was ferried by air force helicopters in batches due to the absence of access road leading to the community that sits on the edge of Kapalong’s Barangay Gupitan along the boundaries of Davao del Norte, Bukidnon, and Agusan del Sur.

The batallion’s Civil Military Operations Officer Lt. Amadeuz Celestial said bringing the services to the isolated community underscores the government’s relentless campaign against insurgency.

“Bumabawi tayo ngayon. Kailangan nating tulongan ang Sitio Tapayanon because this area was once a refuge of the three regional commands of the NPA. Pinapakita natin ngayon na tayo ang totoong gobyerno,” he said.

Governor Edwin Jubahib, who visited the place last July, vowed his all-out support to all interventions for Tapayanon, as he highlighted its significance in attaining the objectives of the Davao del Norte local peace engagement framework.