Lumads welcome to join AFP
CAMP BANCASI, Butuan City – Indigenous peoples (IPs) from the different tribes in northeastern and northern Mindanao are welcome to join the ranks of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the military’s top official in the region said Friday.
“Having them join the Armed Forces is also giving them chance to serve their people, their fellow lumads while helping their community protect their ancestral domain, instead of being exploited by the New People’s Army (NPA), armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP),” said Northeastern and Northern Mindanao Fourth Infantry (Diamond) Division (4th ID) Commander Maj. Gen. Ronald C. Villanueva the 4th ID chief said.
Villanueva issued the invitation as 15 IPs, or lumads, from different tribal communities in Caragao and northern Mindanao were welcomed to the fold of the military Wednesday afternoon as among the 115 Army candidates who will undergo six months military training at the 4th ID Training School in Malaybalay, Bukidnon and the Sixth Infantry Division (6th ID) Training School in Carmen, North Cotabato.
The six-month training will teach the candidate soldiers combat fighting, lifesaving imperatives, disaster response operation, peacekeeping initiatives, human rights, rule of law and rules of engagement.
According to Villanueva, the new breed of so-called peace advocates will fill up the needed number of personnel due to attrition such as optional and compulsory retirement, among others.
During the oath taking ceremony on Wednesday afternoon, the 4th ID chief advised the future Army soldiers to always follow commands and be “perfect.”
There are currently some lumads in the ranks of the 4th ID who are already assisting highland communities in Caraga region, it was learned.
Meanwhile, leaders of the Higaonon, Manobo and Mamanwa tribes and officials of the Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representative (IPMR) in Caraga region unanimously expressed gratitude for the concern of the AFP in securing their respective highland communities from lawless elements by enlisting some of their qualified tribal members into the armed forces.
In a press forum at the sideline of the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) law at one of the city’s hotel and convention center here on Thursday, the tribal leaders acknowledged the concern of the AFP for the security of their respective highland communities while also expressed gratitude to the office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) for continuously recognizing the concern of the lumads, especially the rights of indigenous cultural communities.