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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Road to peace, development for BTL community well underway

MARAMAG, Bukidnon (PIA)—The 33 year-long conflict between Central Mindanao University (CMU) and groups of informal settlers namely BUFFALO, TAMARAW and LIMUS (BTL) at barangay Dologon in Maramag town finally ended.

This came after the Philippine Army’s 88th Infantry “Maringal” Battalion, CMU and 524 Engineering Construction Battalion (524 ECB) facilitated the improvement of a farm-to-market road in BTL community, while other government agencies also followed to help.

Last month, the rehabilitation for the 11.5-kilometer road started in the area. This is the first road improvement of the community after more than three decades of conflict between CMU and BTL.

In an interview, CMU President Dr. Jesus Antonio Derije said BTL and CMU signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) affirming that CMU will put up a potable water system; provide access to farm mechanization, and improve farm-to-market roads in BTL village.

Thus, he said, they need to find ways on how to manage such BTL’s requests with CMU’s limited resources and social responsibility.

Derije said that through an Inter-Local Agency Partnership Agreement (ILAPA), the commitments in the CMU-BTL MOA have come to fruition.

The University President said that through ILAPA, the Army’s 524 ECB started constructing the BTL community’s farm-to-market roads, while the local government unit and Armed Forces of the Philippines’ water system project is now in progress.

The Department of Agriculture in Northern Mindanao region will also provide free access to farm/rice Mechanization Program to help BTL farmers increase their yields by reducing production cost and post-harvest losses.

The ILAPA between CMU, and the Army’s 524 ECB and 52nd Engineering Brigade to embark on projects for communities influenced and threatened by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) was formalized last May 15.

Derije clarified that the MOA on Inclusive Development and Sustainable Peace between CMU and Bukidnon Free Farmers Agricultural Laborer Organization (BUFFALO), Tried Agricultural Movers Association of Rural Active Workers (TAMARAW), Land Tiller Inhabitants of Musuan (LIMUS) or popularly known as ‘BTL’ was ratified last February 11, 2020.

“With our sincere aim to harmonize and actualize a win-win solution to the 33-year long-drawn-out conflict between CMU and informal settlers, which is also part of CMU’s corporate social responsibility, these two agreements guarantee a peaceful and effective implementation of programs as specified in Executive Order No. 70 of President Rodrigo Duterte,” Derije said.

BTL president Mr. Winnie L. Loable expressed his sincerest thanks to CMU and the Philippine Army for the ongoing road rehabilitation. He also conveyed great appreciation to the government agencies for bridging peace and development in their community.

Lt. Col Franklin F. Fabic Commanding Officer of 88IB, meanwhile said, “To the BTL members, the 33 years of struggling has ended. You can now live normally with no worries about the future of your children. Let this be the start of improvement as you welcome the government efforts in your area. To the CMU, we are very thankful for being our partner in achieving lasting peace and sustainable development in our area.”

The BTL organization was a former umbrella of leftist groups that support the CPP-NPA-NDF. The community has already denounced its ties with the terrorist organization after the 88IB troopers, through the Community Support Program, successfully cleared the area from the influence of the communist terrorist organizations. (CMO, 88IB, PA/PIA Bukidnon)     

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