The Municipal Government of Talipao, Sulu, eyes the return of communities, some of which have been displaced for more than 20 years.
During an inter-agency meeting last March 17, 2021, the Talipao Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMO) has resolved to repatriate internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the municipality in collaboration with the Joint Task Force Sulu of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“It has been two decades since people were displaced from the barangay. With the relative peace and stability, we are now enjoying, it is about time we return our people to their rightful communities so they can pursue a dignified and progressive life,” Alkhizar Alih, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (MDRRMO) Officer said.
Among those targeted for repatriation is Brgy Bud Bunga in Talipao. It was home to about three hundred families before numerous skirmishes between government forces and Abu Sayaff bandits displaced them in 2001 and again in 2014.
The community lies in the slopes of Mount Sinumaan, marking the boundaries between the municipalities of Talipao and Patikul. Its remote landscape is being taken advantage by the Abu Sayaff bandits as staging areas to conduct terroristic activities.
The area is also known for their seasonal yet bountiful Lanzones and Mangosteen harvests.
Prior to the meeting, units under Joint Task Force Sulu has intensified engagements to ensure stability and sustainability of the “newly harvested” peace.
“Our troops are postured to sustain the peace to foster and environment conducive to peace and development,” Lt Colonel Jooney Jay Busińos, Commanding Officer of the military unit covering the Municipality of Talipao said.
For the past months, troops of the 2nd Special Forces Battalion based in Talipao has been assisting residents and the local government “to get back on their feet” and enjoy the peace.
“Through the collaborative efforts of the local government unit, we are setting a favorable social environment for inclusive growth and stability,” Ltc Busińos added.
Since last year, a joint partnership between the 2nd Special Forces Battalion, Bounty Fresh Agri Ventures and Go Negosyo for a pilot poultry farm generated more than PHP250,000 in income. The pilot ventured employed local residents, including former Abu Syaff rebels in the Municipality of Parang in Sulu.
This developmental activity, the military hopes, would render violence and radicalism irrelevant as communities become more progressive, hence, more resilient to be dragged into conflict.
Under the AFP’s Development Support Security Plan “Kapayapaan”, military units have shifted significant effort to support the LGUs in winning and sustaining peace through development, good governance and security. The plan intends to address the root causes of violent extremism as a “whole of nation approach”, imploring a developmental approach to resolving conflict rather than relying purely on combat operations.
To date, the military is in its final phase to neutralize the remaining Abu Sayaff bandits, with Joint Task Force Sulu under Major General Gonzales, having marching orders to defeat the Abu Sayaff Group in Sulu before the second quarter of this year. (RVC/PIA9 with reports from CPT Ron JR T. Villarosa, Civil-Military Operations Officer, 2SFBN, PA)