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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — The 4th Infantry Division (4ID) of the Philippine Army on April 5, 2023, vowed to continue strengthening relations with the indigenous peoples (IP) communities in the Northern Mindanao and Caraga regions
In a statement, MGen. Jose Maria Cuerpo II, 4ID Commander, said part of his leadership includes working closely with IPs to facilitate peace and development in the indigenous cultural communities so they would not get recruited by communist rebels, and prevent their villages from becoming rebel mass bases.
“Let’s re-establish our warm and strong relationship. We are committed to supporting and assisting our IPs in providing lasting solutions to the issues we have discussed,” he said.
With the help of other local government units and line government agencies under the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC), Cuerpo said the issues and concerns of IP will be discussed and eventually resolved.
On April 5, the 4ID addressed concerns from more than 100 IP leaders from the two regions who paid a visit to its headquarters here, which was also facilitated by the National Commission on Indigenous People.
Cuerpo and other 4ID officials held discussions on IPs being enlisted in the Army, the support for the institutionalization of the Indigenous Defense System, additional military detachments in ancestral domains, military reservations, and ancestral land security.
Datu Jimmy Guinsod, the Provincial Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representative of Surigao del Sur province, said the 4ID’s gesture of showing importance to them and giving protection to their ancestral domains were highly commendable.
Bae Anna Jessa Mae Crisostomo, the spokesperson for the Mindanao Indigenous People’s Youth Organization and the National TF-ELCAC Focal Person for IP Concerns, said that by partnering with the 4ID and IP communities, everyone can contribute to ensuring peace and development in ancestral domains.
During the dialogue, Cuerpo was conferred with the title “Datu Uma-angkag,” which means a brave and charismatic warrior, for participating in the event. (Nef Luczon/PNA)