CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Far from taking pride in its achievements, especially in “winning” peace in Misamis Oriental, Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) executive director Teddy Sabuga-a Jr. has readily pointed to its partner civil society organization for leading the charge for peace in the province.
Misamis Oriental, under outgoing Governor Oscar Moreno, received from President Benigno Simeon Aquino III last January 30 the Plaque of Outstanding Program (Galing Pook Award) for its local peacebuilding initiative “The Lantad Peace-Building Experience: Turning Red to Green in Misamis Oriental” (From a ‘No Man’s Land’ to a Land of Hope/Strategic Innovations in Upgrading Misamis Oriental’s Provincial Peace and Order Council).
Sitio Lantad in Barangay Kibanban in the municipality of Balingasag was, in the 1970s up to the early 1990s, the base of the communist insurgency in Northeastern Mindanao. Moreno once described it as the “showcase of the government’s neglect.”
But when Moreno came to power nine years ago, he put special focus on Lantad and was able to retake it without firing a single shot. In 2007, he transformed the once bastion of communism into a special agrarian reform community, making it a prime example of how peace and development efforts should be pursued – not by might, but through sincere and concrete efforts to reach out and make a difference in people’s lives.
“Lantad is a showcase of the paradigm shift we in the PPOC and provincial government of Misamis Oriental undertook in addressing the insurgency problem in the province. Instead of deploying armed soldiers to the area, we brought in the full force of the government to address the root cause of the rebellion: poverty and underdevelopment,” said Sabuga-a.
Sabuga-a, however, said that the paradigm shift – from being a “reactive to a pro-active PPOC” – was initiated with the help of Balay Mindanaw, whose representative sits as co-chairperson of the PPOC.
“Balay Mindanaw is the secret weapon of the provincial government of Misamis Oriental,” he said.
He said that they could not have done it without the help of Balay Mindanaw. (Bong D. Fabe)