“Who are the ‘Agu-balang’? They are the protectors of our forests. They are the protectors of the Manobo Dulangan tribespeople,” SNA Mayor Randy Ecija Jr. explained while presenting the peacekeeping team during the RCSP Serbisyo Caravan at Sitio Lemangga in Barangay Midtungok on Friday.
Mayor Ecija said members of the forest protectors were selected by the 7th Infantry (Tapat) Brigade stationed in the area and the local government unit.
“They are our mouths and eyes in the forests,” the local chief executive said.
The team has about 40 members.
In an interview with Philippine Information Agency, a member of the “Agu-balang” elaborated that their responsibilities as “Agu-balang” include monitoring the forests in and around Midtungok against any form of illegal activities and watching out for presence of suspicious individuals.
Also in line with peace and development efforts in the area, at least five individuals have also been designated as CSP (Community Support Program) operators.
“These are professionals that help the LGU and our soldiers in informing the people of Barangay Midtungok and the 11 sitios about the programs, projects, and activities of the government in their places.
“Because of the partnership of the LGU, the military and the CSP operators we are successful in the conduct of CSP, which has resulted in the inclusion of Midtungok as an RCSP target area,” Mayor Ecija said.
The Retooled Community Support Program is one of the strategies to carry out the mandate of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70 institutionalizing the whole-of-nation approach to end local communist armed conflict (ELCAC).
RCSP takes off from the CSP by expanding the military-led initiative into a convergence of the peace and security sector, local government units, and national government agencies addressing the needs of formerly conflict-affected villages.
Midtungok is one of the 103 barangays across SOCCSKSARGEN Region targeted for implementation of RCSP.
As an RCSP barangay it can avail of a P20-million development assistance package from the national government to implement the programs, projects, and activities or PPAs that the community will identify. Apart from the national government allotment, an RCSP barangay is also set to receive services from the municipal and provincial government and regional line agencies through their respective PPAs.
Mayor Ecija hopes that through the RCSP, residents in Midtungok will enjoy what they have clamored for so long, namely paved road from the town center and bridges where the road crosses the Kulaman river and schools to provide education to children in the interior subvillages.
The partnership of the community, municipal LGU and provincial LGU has already resulted in the establishment of a health center that will offer health services to indigenous people in the area, mostly Manobo Dulangan. (DED-PIA-XII)