Groups to check safety of community for Lumad’s return in Davao del Norte town

Sep. 12, 2016
Jinky, 15 years old, is a Manobo evacuee from Kapalong, Davao del Norte. (Medel V. Hernani/ file photo)

Jinky, 15 years old, is a Manobo evacuee from Kapalong, Davao del Norte. (Medel V. Hernani/ file photo)

DAVAO CITY – Government and people’s organizations are set for an ocular visit in Sitio Muling, Barangay Gupitan in Kapalong, Davao del Norte province on September 13-15 in preparation for the safe return of the Lumads staying in a church compound here.

Leading the visit, Pasaka Confederation of Lumad in Mindanao spokesperson Jong Monzon said that the visit will be held “to check the situation of the communities if it will be safe for the Lumad people to return.”

“This is after hearing that President Rodrigo Duterte want peace, and we saw in the news that military will be pulling out of the communities because of the peace talks,” Monzon said.

Government agencies who will be joining the ocular inspection with the Pasaka are the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, and Department of Health. Church groups belonging to the Solidarity Action Group for Indigenous Peoples and Peasants will also take part of the visit.

“This is what the Lumad wanted, that they can finally return to their communities,” Monzon said.

But Monzon admitted that the Lumad’s return to their communities will depend on their assessment after the ocular visit, “for the Lumads fled their community for about a year and five months now.”

The Lumad from Kapalong Davao del Norte is set to return to their communities on the September 19, Monday.

As of now, there are still 36 families, comprised of 162 individuals, mostly children, who are hoping to be able to return to their communities on Monday.

Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo during her visit at the Lumad camp in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines – Haran on July 22, said that they are ready to assist the Lumads on their way home.

“During my first visit here, they told me their wish to go back to their communities. I have conveyed this to the President even before his inauguration and he directed me to prepare whatever the Lumad communities need when they go back to their community,” she said in a press conference July 22.

Taguiwalo added that they are also ready to provide assistance the Lumad needs when they can settle in their communities and go back to farming.

“But we have to wait for the instructions of the President about the security and timing of their return in their communities,” she said.

Monzon said they are still waiting for the reply of the Provincial Government of Davao del Norte and Mayor Maria Theresa Timbol of Kapalong town for the ocular visit.

“We have already talked with Kapalong town Mayor Timbol last Wednesday (September 7). We hope that we could pursue the ocular visit,” he said.(

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