MAGPET, Cotabato Province, July 3 (PIA) - Government troops are also social workers who are prepared to back government efforts for development of underserved villages, an army official assured a Manobo community here.
"Government troops are no longer the typical soldiers. They are now social workers, agriculturists, medics, and school teachers," Col. Potenciano Camba, commander of the 1002nd Brigade, told residents of Barangay Manobo in Magpet, Cotabato Province during the launching of Project IPEACE in the area on June 24.
Project IPEACE (Indigenous Peoples Empowered as Agripreneurs Towards a Collective End) is a flagship project of the Joint Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (JRTF-ELCAC) XII that promotes food security by developing hard-to-reach communities, especially those populated by indigenous peoples as agricultural entrepreneurs.
TESDA Secretary Isidro Lapena, cabinet officer for regional development and security for SOCCSKSARGEN Region, visited the region last week to lead the launching of Project IPEACE in four pilot sites, namely Barangay Alegria in Alabel, Sarangani; Barangay San Jose in General Santos City; Barangay Datal-blao in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat; and Barangay Manobo in Magpet, Cotabato Province.
According to the project briefer, IPEACE aims "to transform IP communities into integrated food production sites; develop self-reliant, resilient, and sustainable IP communities; attain food security for a balanced and equitable resource distribution and dynamic economic livelihood and income opportunities to produce sustainable communities; and end insurgency."
At the launching event in Barangay Manobo, Col. Camba emphasized that the "Philippine Army and the entire Armed Forces fully supports Project IPEACE and all the programs of the government for the development of the indigenous peoples."
"Your Army are social workers and you can rely on them. Be assured that your army are here to support your progress," Col. Camba said.
As a convergence project of the JRTF-ELCAC XII, Project IPEACE will capacitate IP communities in productive agriculture-based enterprises by bringing in skills and entreprenuerial trainings.
With help from agencies like the Department of Trade and Indusry, Department of Labor and Employment, Land Bank of the Philippines and others, the project also plans to establish food hubs and food terminals where farmers can bring ther produce and sell these at better prices without the intervention of middlemen.
Other national government agencies, depending on their agency mandates will also deliver services in these pilot communities for a comprehensive and sustainable development. (DED-PIA XII)