NOLCOM, Tarlac City – The first summit participated in by the indigenous people (IP) headed by their leader in Zambales and the director for Cultural Affairs of Access to Human Rights International Philippines, Samuel M. Balintay Jr., was held and carried the message that “violence was never part of the indigenous people’s culture.”
This was the statement sent to People’s Tonight during the Indigenous People-Youth Leadership Summit (IP-YLS) facilitated by the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) in partnership with the local government of Porac, Pampanga and Alviera.
The two-day event which culminated on Thursday was held at Pinatubo Eco Adventure and Cultural Enclave-Katutubong Anak ng Mt. Pinatubo (PEACE KAMP), Bgy. Sapang Uwak in Porac. It was participated in by 30 IP youth leaders coming from the different IP communities in Porac, said Major Ace Galorio, public information officer of NOLCOM.
With the theme “Strengthening the Culture of Peace and Inclusive Development,” the participants of the IP-YLS have undergone series of lectures and teambuilding activities that will help them understand the role of the youth in nation-building, while developing their leadership skills as future leaders in their respective communities.
Likewise, the event, which also aims to prevent and counter violent extremism, featured Ka Mae, a former rebel.
In her presentation, she revealed to the participants the atrocities that the New People’s Army does to teenage rebels like her. She gave a clear picture of the grim life that lies ahead if the youth fall into the manipulative ploys of the terrorist group.
“Ang mga katutubong Aeta ay ayaw sa gulo at sa armadong pakikibaka. Hangad ng mga katutubong Aeta ang tahimik at mapayapang paraan tungo sa kaunlaran,” Balintay also emphasized.
For his part, Lieutenant General Arnulfo Marcelo B. Burgos Jr., Commander of NOLCOM, said: “Taon- taon ang Headquarters NOLCOM ay nagsasagawa ng Youth Leadership Summit sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng Sentral at Hilagang Luson. Ito ay upang makatulong na palawigin ang kaalaman ng mga kabataan ukol sa tamang gawain at kung paano kayo makakatulong sa inyong komunidad pagdating sa usapin ng seguridad, kapayapaan at kaunlaran.”
“Bilang kabataan, kayo ay napakahalagang elemento ng ating pamayanan. Nasa mga kamay ninyo ang kinabukasan ng ating mahal na bayan. Ako ay lubos na naniniwala na sa tamang gabay, ang mga katutubong kabataan ay lalaking may magandang pananaw sa buhay at may malasakit sa kapwa na siyang magbigay daan tungo sa kapayapaan at progresibong pagbabago ng ating bayan,” he added.
Burgos also said in his remarks that the participants are encouraged to denounce the communist terrorist and other lawless elements in the community whose only objective is to exploit the vulnerability of the IP community,
“Sama-sama nating itakwil ang mga masasamang elemento ng ating komunidad at ang terroristang grupo ng New People’s Army, upang makamit ang tamang reporma at progresibong pagbabago ng ating mga katutubo,” he said.
The IP-YLS is one of the IP empowerment activities regularly conducted by NOLCOM. Since the establishment of its IP Affairs Desk last January 12, 2021, it aims to fast-track coordination and help facilitate efficient delivery of government services and implementation of government projects to the different IP communities in Northern and Central Luzon.
Headquarters NOLCOM has had several IP engagement activities, including the Tribal Chieftains’ Summit last March 20 where 15 tribal chieftains and 20 IP mandatory representatives participated.
With almost 30 percent of the IP population in the country residing in the areas of Northern and Central Luzon, NOLCOM said it is committed to its campaign against the exploitation of the IP.