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Davao City, Philippines

The sun also rises in Tapayanon

August 12, 2019 - Monday 4:08 AM by Jimmy Laking

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Tapayanon is not your typical hinterland village. This is because at a time and place when the digital world has impacted the daily lives of Filipinos, no such thing has been happening in Tapayanon.

Electricity was unheard off.  There was no school in sight. No government health facility. The village had a name but it is doubtful if a government official has set foot on the village for decades. There was no road either, except for occasional foot trails. 

In the absence of government, according to Ariel Capili of the National Anti-Poverty Commission, the place has become a sanctuary of the rebel New People’s Army. 

“There, they set up their equivalent of the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command since the place overlooks the tri-boundaries of Davao del Norte, Bukidnon and Agusan del Sur,” he said, citing information provided by the Philippine Army’s 60th Infantry Battalion. 

From the air, it may be part of that green expanse one can see to the left as the plane eats up the last 150 kilometers towards Davao City. 

It is so isolated that when government troops dismantled the NPA’s hold on the village, they came upon a community deprived of basic services. For many villagers, it was also their first time to meet government soldiers in the flesh. 

Even for the toughened soldiers of the 60th IB, the sight that greeted them was appalling and beyond description. In the months that followed, battalion officers made representations to bring the plight of the village to the attention of authorities. 

They also drew inspiration from President Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70 that institutionalized a “whole-of-nation approach” in ending insurgency and in bringing about inclusive and sustainable peace. 

The approach is also consistent with the objectives of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 that sought to cut down poverty from 21.6 percent to a manageable14 percent by 2022.

To their credit, the LGUs of Davao del Norte were responsive and expressed willingness to assist a village categorized as poor, deprived and vulnerable. 

It was also on the initiative of the LGUs that the service caravan was conceptualized to bring various services to the village, with the military providing air transport.

Jubahib says the opening up of a 20-kilometer road that will link the village to the nearest village where the road ends will be priority.

Once in place, it will provide the catalyst in the introduction of more intervention and development. 

Capili said that as a follow-through, NAPC secretary Noel K. Felongco, head of the government’s coordinating body to address poverty, will be leading a second convergence caravan to Tapayanon on September to strengthen government assistance and intervention. 

The sun also rises in Tapayanon, after what seemed an eternity.