PAQUIBATO district, a far-flung area in Davao City which used to be a hotbed for communist insurgency, is gaining momentum in economic development with the ongoing construction of infrastructure facilities and the planned expansion of the University of Southeastern Philippines (Usep) in Barangay Malabog.
Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) considered these developments as “victory of peace”.
In an interview on the sidelines of the AFP-PNP press forum at the Royal Mandaya Hotel yesterday, Eastmincom Public Information Office (PIO) chief Lieutenant Ezra Balagtey said the development will give the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) an access to quality education which is one of the root causes identified why communism thrived in the area in previous years.
“Putting up of Usep in Paquibato is a victory of peace and victory of the indigenous peoples of Paquibato and we hope that this college will evolve into a center of studies for indigenous peoples particularly in Paquibato. They have rich culture, they have rich history, and a lot of stories to tell,” Balagtey said.
Earlier, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio announced that the city government will be allocating P54 million for the construction of the Usep annex building, which will be sourced from 2020 annual budget of the city.
The campus will be a three-story building composed of 14 classrooms that is expected to open in 2022. This is seen to benefit Lumad and indigent students as they will no longer have to go downtown to study and earn a college degree.
“Na-answer na ‘yong issue nila which is education. Now we bring in education closer to the indigenous peoples which is malayo nong una sa kanila na makaabot and education now is there in the heart of their ancestral domain,” Balagtey said.
He added that the plan, which is the output of the Peace 911, is the realization of the call of marginalized people in the area for inclusive development.
Although Paquibato remains to be threatened by the New People’s Army’s (NPA) presence in the neighboring municipalities, it will become irrelevant as the government is already improving the delivery of its services.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Joel Salaginto, battalion commander of 16th Infantry Battalion (IB), said majority of the ongoing developments in Paquibato is road construction.
Other issues raised by the people in the area such as weak communication signal is now being answered as Globe is constructing its tower while Smart tower has already been put up in the area.
Salaginto added that the significant road construction that is ongoing now is the road linking Paquibato and San Fernando in Bukidnon. He also assured that in the coming days, the roads going to and coming from Paquibato will be smoother.