LUBUAGAN, Kalinga -- A top military officer called on all cultural communities in the province to protect their ancestral domains from violence and hostility.     

Major General Rommel Gomez, Commanding General of the 5th Infantry Division (5ID) of the Philippine Army, in a press conference asked for cooperation and vigilance from indigenous communities to keep watch not only over their ancestral domains but for the safety of their children.

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He said that the July 9, 2010 ambush staged by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Barangay Samoki, Bontoc, Mountain Province killing seven soldiers including two from Kalinga, who were on their way to a medical-dental mission in Bontoc, “is a violation of the indigenous people’s bugis (ancestral domains).”

“We should not allow that these things to happen against our people and heritage,” he said.

The general said that communities play a vital role in ending the insurgency problems considering that the NPA could not survive without the food, shelter, recruits, information and protection they get from the people.

He asked local officials and the public to work together with the Philippine Army to stop the problems of insurgency saying that the army these days is directed in achieving lasting peace encouraging conducive environment for development and progress.

Meanwhile, Gomez in his keynote speech during the 102nd Founding Anniversary and Lumin-awa Festival of Lubuagan last August 18, underscored the new image of soldiers being the people’s partner in achieving peace and development.

He said that soldiers deployed in the Cordilleras were taught to be sensitive on the culture, to protect, interact and be one with the people.

“We are here to help and not to make life difficult for everybody,” he said.

Encouraging youngsters to join the government troop, he said that recruits should be competitive to pass the physical and mental test with positive perspective for the profession.

Gomez said that the AFP is prioritizing recruitment in the Cordilleras to give chance for aspiring youngster to join the army. He informed that the 5th ID had recruited this year the biggest number from the Cordilleras with 200 graduating soldiers on August 20.

Among the issues raised by officials during the talk were on how to facilitate recruitment in schools, internal security and local peace and order problems. (GG Dumallig)