BAYUGAN CITY, Agusan del Sur – The Local Government Unit (LGU) of Lianga, Surigao del Sur (SDS), Medical Health Unit of Bayugan, Agusan del Sur, Philippine Red National Red Cross Agusan and Surigao Sur Chapter, Department of Health (DOH) CARAGA Regional Office, civilian volunteers in partnership with the 3rd Special Forces (ARROWHEAD) Battalion volunteer to aid the conflict-affected community of Sitio Simowao (Kilometer 9),Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur through Medical and Dental Outreach Service on September 8, 2019.
During the interview with some residents, it was revealed that the Kilometer 9 community is one of the most affected during the Communist NPA Terrorist (CNTs)-led “Taktikang Bakwit” wherein they use the residents, mostly indigenous peoples (IP), as human shield to evade government forces. Further, Bakwit is an orchestrated strategy organized by the members of anti-government group called Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) and its allied front groups to gain the sympathy of international funding organizations which are potential donors who would provide cash donations to the group as part of their international solidarity works (ISW).
“Taktikang Bakwit”, according to former participants, is a strategy of the leftist groups to discredit the government and the military. “Kapag nandito ang mga sundalo, lagi nilang nilalagay sa isip naming na kami ay papatayin nila. Sinisiraan nila ang sundalo para matakot kami at sumama sa pagbakwit,” said by the resident in Manobo language.
“Ngayon, nandito ang mga sundalo, matagal na sila dito, mag-iisang buwan na pero wala naman kaming nakikita kundi yung magandang pakikisama nila at pagtulong. Inaayos nila ang kalsada, tumulong sa pag-ayos ng kuryente, at gumagawa ng paraan para matulungan kami katulad ng Medical Mission,” he added.
With the LGUs’ support, electricity was installed last August, then, the Army Engineering Battalion offered their backhoe and dump trucks to be used in improving the existing farm-to-market road going to the municipality proper.
Lieutenant Colonel Joey B Baybayan, Commanding Officer of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion, in a statement said, “The aim of the Executive Order No. 70 (EO 70) is to end local communist armed conflict. The government does its best to attain lasting peace, and the people of KM 9 wants peace. I think that is the reason why they are very appreciative to our recent peace and development efforts.
“Most people here are tired of participating in the illegal mobilization of anti-government groups such as the bakwit because it does nothing to solve any of their problems. Further, forceful displacement of the indigenous people violates their tradition and culture,” he added.
Meanwhile, even some MAPASU leaders and members in Kilometer 9 happily participated in the government-initiated activity. They came and went home with smiles on their faces as both young and old were thankful for the free medical check-up, consultations, free distribution of medicines, dental check-up, extraction, free hair-cut, feeding program, free “tahi ng sapatos”, gift-giving and enjoyed various fun and games during the event.