Cusi of CORDS addresses pandemic related issues

First of all, belated happy birthday to barangay chairman cum engineer, Mark Delfin of the Mark Angel Construction and Interior Design and to Quezon City Hall Detachment head, Chief Inspector Rolando Lorenzo, Jr.

They are two of my kindest friends and I  could only wish that they stay safe all the time, specially from COVID-19.  Of course, more birthdays to come!!! 

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As the region’s designated Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS), Secretary Alfonso Cusi of the Department of Energy (DoE) commended the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) of Region IV-B MIMAROPA (Mindoro-Marinduque-Romblon-Palawan).

This is for the surrender of more communist rebels at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as he said that these are concrete results of ELCAC-related activities that need to be sustained.

Secretary Cusi, however, reminded the group that the local government will not fully succeed in its goal to permanently quell unrest if land issues among indigenous peoples (IPs) and their ancestral domains are not addressed properly. He said IPs reportedly comprise about 70 percent of the New People's Army (NPA) or Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs).

The energy chief also expressed his appreciation to the RTF-ELCAC Region IV-B for declaring its support to Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Law, which President Rodrigo Duterte signed recently. He urged the group to continue its information campaign to enlighten the people about the law.

“We must continue communicating its truth in the most empathic way and reach out to as many Filipinos as we can, using language that breeds trust and security,” he said.

Too, Sec. Cusi underscored the importance of peace and order in attaining the economic targets of the region even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a virtual meeting, Sec. Cusi said it is important for MIMAROPA to uphold regional security to entice more investors to come in, and for people in MIMAROPA to gain confidence to move forward in the “new normal”. Provinces in MIMAROPA are mostly known for exporting products and tourism.

“We must ensure the safety and security of MIMAROPA for businesses to thrive and for us to entice more investors to come in. Businesses, residents, and workers must be protected from coercion and exploitation. If we want more people to choose MIMAROPA over other provinces, we must uphold and protect our regional security,” he said.

The good secretary also emphasized that the displacement of jobs in the urban areas has also led to a massive exodus of people to rural areas, which could affect the socio-economy dynamics within the MIMAROPA region.

He said that the primary concerns of the region should be to address the influx of people from urban areas, such as those from the “Balik Probinsya, Balik Pag-asa Program”; identify enough livelihood opportunities and economic activities for people in MIMAROPA to thrive; ensure the health and safety of the people, whether residing or relocating in the region; and ending local communist armed conflict.  

Per the Balik Probinsya, Balik Pag-Asa Program website, 2,701 individuals applied to return to their provinces in MIMAROPA.

Aside from providing support to local livelihood, one solution that the Secretary also emphasized is to permanently settle land issues among indigenous peoples (IPs) and their ancestral domain concerns.

According to Sec. Cusi,  “IPs reportedly comprise about 70 percent of the New People's Army or Communist Terrorist Groups. Therefore, the Regional Task Force's efforts to deliver basic services and provide financial assistance will be in vain if IPs are persistently displaced from their ancestral lands.

During the said meeting, Sec. Cusi said Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro Mayor Elgin Malauan presented the recently launched Sustainable Community Program  (SCP), a pilot project that shall provide additional livelihood support to IPs and former rebels, where a five-hectare lot is being allocated in his municipality. While another SCP is being established in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, the RTF-ELCAC MIMAROPA is working on replicating similar projects for other areas in the said region soon.

The energy chief also expressed his gratitude to the RTF-ELCAC members for their continued efforts and accomplishments, most especially in working towards establishing lasting peace and security in the region. Good news like these are welcome during times like this. Kudos, Sec. Cusi…

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Jokjok (from Virgie Cabatbat of Mayon St., Quezon City )---  Employer: So, why did you leave your previous job?/ Applicant: The company relocated and they did not tell me where!Tama ba naman ‘yun? 

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