By Priam Nepomuceno
MANILA — The Philippine Navy (PN) is more than willing to work with Indigenous Peoples (IP) communities to ensure their development and prosperity.
PN flag officer in command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad made this pledge during the courtesy call on him by a group of IP leaders aboard the BRP Ang Pangulo (ACS-25), which was docked at Pier 13, Manila South Harbor Wednesday.
“Kasama niyo ang inyong Navy upang bigyan ng pag-asa ang inyong mga kababayan na nilinlang ng mga kaaway. Handa ang inyong Navy na makipagtulungan sa inyo upang magkaroon ng progreso, katahimikan at kaunlaran ang ating mga IP. Marami kaming natutunan sa inyo at taos-puso kami nagpapasalamat(Your Navy is with you in giving hope to our countrymen who have been deceived by the enemies. Your Navy is ready to work with you in achieving progress, peace, and development for the IPs. We have learned much from you and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts),” he said.
Lt. Cmdr. Maria Christina A. Roxas, PN public affairs office chief, said five out of eight IP ambassadors — Datu Awing Apoga, Datu Malapandaw Nestor Apas, Datu Joel Dahusay, Bae Chiary Balinan, and Bae Magdalina Gano — had the opportunity to sit with the senior leaders of the Navy and narrate their sad experiences with communist groups.
These tribal leaders just came back from a month-long tour of the United States, where they conducted a “Truth Caravan” for various Filipino-American communities – which aimed to unmask the abuses done by leftist groups in their communities.
Empedrad considered this encounter with tribal leaders as a learning experience to better understand the real situation of IP communities and the encroaching presence of abusive communist groups.
The PN is partnering with civil society organizations and other stakeholders in promoting peace and the peaceful resolution of conflict through the conduct of consultations and dialogues as part of its support role in the government thrust. (PNA)