Catholic Church, Army put up IPs school in Sultan Kudarat

By Edwin Fernandez

May 18, 2018, 6:19 pm

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao--The military and the local Catholic Church have joined hands in putting up a school for Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in an upland town in Sultan Kudarat province.

Fr. Rockmore Saniel of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) congregation on Friday said the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion has assisted in putting up a Day Care Center in Sitio Pangaan, Barangay Tinalon, Senator Ninoy Aquino town, a two-hour drive from this camp, the headquarters of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.

First Lieutenant Alessandro Cruzada, commander of the 33rd IB Alpha Company, and his men helped Saniel and his church workers put up the foundation of the school project primarily intended for IPs children with the groundbreaking ceremony held on Thursday.

Saniel, concurrent head of the OMI IP ministry, said the materials for the construction of the two-room day care center were donated by the local government of Senator Ninoy Aquino, headed by Mayor Randy Ecija Jr., and private structure firm Jargon Construction Company.

The OMI congregation has long been extending aid to the IPs in Sultan Kudarat, including education, livelihood, and promotion of peace.

“The IPs here have been subjected by various groups to abuses, land grabbing included. The Church is helping them preserve their culture and make them self-reliant through various programs,” Saniel said in a mobile phone interview on Friday.

Army Colonel Harold Cabunoc, the commander of the 33rd IB, said the communist rebels are using the IPs in advancing their communist ideology.

“The uneducated IPs and the rebels’ promise of protection for their ancestral lands make the IPs sympathize with the rebels,” Cabunoc said in a separate interview in this camp on Friday.

The military and the Sultan Kudarat provincial government have been convincing IPs lured by the New Peoples Army (NPA) to surrender and avail of the government’s amnesty program. Cabunoc has expressed full support to the Church programs for the IPs in Senator Ninoy Aquino town, especially its programs on education. (Edwin Fernandez/PNA)