“Oplan Maragatas” Launched at Hotbed of Communist Insurgency in DavOr

DAVAO ORIENTAL – With a firm resolve to wipe out the local Communist insurgency, the provincial government recently launched a program offering long-term solutions to address its root causes through good governance and provision of sustainable projects.

On July 22, Wednesday, the “Oplan Maragatas” – a program which strongly supports the national government’s Whole-of-Nation Approach to End Local Communist Armed Conflict – was officially launched in Barangay Maragatas in the municipality of Lupon, Davao Oriental, one of the province’s top ten priority barangays considered to be among the hotbeds of armed conflict here.

Governor Nelson Dayanghirang leads the launching of the Oplan Maragatas — a program under the Executive Order 70 of President Duterte to end the local communist armed conflict.

Wednesday’s launching was highlighted by the awarding of national certificates to 125 scholars who completed livelihood skills training under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). These scholars, who are residents of Barangay Maragatas, completed their trainings on Masonry NC 2, Carpentry NC 2, Shielded Metal Arc Welding NC 1, Organic Agriculture Production NC II, Food and Beverage Services NCI, and Cookery NC 2.

Under the TESDA program, the scholars received free training and assessment, insurance fee, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), internet allowance of P500, and training support fund of P160 per day throughout the course.

Governor Dayanghirang and Sec. Lapeña during the launching of Oplan Maragatas

No less than the director-general of TESDA, Secretary Isidro Lapeña, who heads the Poverty Reduction, Livelihood and Employment Cluster of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC), graced the activity and handed over the certificates.

Sec. Lapeña congratulated the scholars for gaining new skills that will give them many employment and livelihood opportunities. He assured them that the training is only the beginning of the government’s assistance as it also looks into providing aid in terms of employment and livelihood.

The Director-General of TESDA, Secretary Isidro Lapeña

A father of six, 44-year-old Reynaldo Budadong, who completed the course on Carpentry, said he is happy to acquire new skills. He said he looks forward to the housing project that the provincial government eyes to put up in their village as it promises to hire local labor for its construction. “We would be very happy when the project eventually starts as it will surely provide us with jobs,” he said.

Meanwhile, putting a premium on agriculture and food production, Sec. Lapeña also proposed the establishment of a productivity center in the village where locals can undergo livelihood trainings. The agency has already linked up with the private sector that will set to buy local products, particularly the locally made wine called “bia-is”.

Aside from the interventions brought by the Poverty Reduction, Livelihood and Employment Cluster for the people of Brgy. Maragatas, the member-agencies of two other clusters namely the Infrastructure cluster and Basic Services Cluster also turned over projects and provided much-needed services for the people here.

Sec. Lapeña said that all these interventions became possible through the complementation of the efforts of all stakeholders involved. He lauded the provincial government of Davao Oriental who he says proves that nothing is impossible with good partnership and coordination among partners.

“Our government aims to improve the lives of our people, to get them out of poverty, and enable them to live comfortable lives,” he said, noting that his presence during the activity is an “affirmation of the government’s commitment to supporting the people, especially those from the marginalized sector.”

Village chief Beverly Rebalde expressed her thanks to the government for looking into her people’s plights which they have endured for many years. “What we dreamed for a very long time is now starting to be realized. I can finally see our people able to provide for their own families and send their children to school. And for that, we are very grateful,” a teary-eyed Rebalde said.

Joining the launching are the 125 TESDA scholars who are also residents of Barangay Maragatas

Barangay Maragatas which consists of 20 sitios covering a total of 9,057 hectares of land has a population of more than 3,000 people.

Decades ago, Barangay Maragatas, particularly its hinterland sitios situated on the mountains, was used to be infested with the Communist-Terrorist Group New People’s Army (NPA), forcing locals to provide support to the rebel group while some get easily recruited to join their ranks.  Villagers say that the group used to roam freely in their communities and have thrived for many years here primarily because of the village’s far distance from the government center which also means far from government services.

However, with the government coming into the picture and with the recent inception of the Whole-of-Nation Approach to End Local Communist Insurgency, these conditions have changed over the recent years.

Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict

The Oplan Maragatas is only part of the national program dubbed as the Whole-of-Nation Approach to End Local Communist Insurgency.

Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict Focal Person Mr. Ednar Dayanghirang said the program promises to provide long-term government interventions to address the long-standing societal problems such as poverty and lack of socio-economic opportunities in the communities, which are long to be considered as the root causes of the insurgency.

Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict Focal Person Mr. Ednar Dayanghirang

In the province of Davao Oriental, the program uses the cluster approach in providing interventions. Mr. Dayanghirang said this means that interventions are being provided in a holistic manner delivered by a team of agencies rather than just one agency, thus, ensuring sustainability and effectiveness.

Under the leadership of Governor Nelson Dayanghirang, the province of Davao Oriental has been aggressive in its efforts to address these problems through effective programs and implementation of projects in the communities that have a direct impact on the lives of the people.  

Governor Nelson Dayanghirang

“Now is the time to end this long-running armed struggle. The government is already here providing meaningful projects and services. We have a government that is willing to listen. There is no reason to support the enemy’s side which only sows nothing but terror and strife. I only ask that everyone join our government’s cause for peace and its bid for development,” said Governor Dayanghirang. By Karen Lou Deloso/Photos by Van Jorain Rufin