TUPI, South Cotabato – Secretary Isidro S. Lapeña, Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) for SOCCSKSARGEN Region and concurrent Director-General of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), calls for immediate actions on the concerns of the Indigenous Peoples (IPs), particularly on land conflicts and on their vulnerabilities to the influence and recruitment of the communist terrorist group (CTG).

Presiding over the 10th Regional Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) XII meeting on August 27, 2020 from Brittannika Gold Club Hotel in Tupi, South Cotabato, Secretary Lapeña pushed for the speedy resolution of the issue on Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) in Sultan Kudarat. He requested the Provincial Government of Sultan Kudarat and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Office XII to provide updates on the actions taken by these agencies on this matter in the 11th meeting of the Regional Task Force. Likewise, the Cotabato Provincial Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) briefed the CORDS on the developments of the investigation on the existence of Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc. (MISFI) schools in Cotabato Province. In his message, Secretary Lapeña emphasized that, despite of the pandemic, he is optimistic that the government will be able to accelerate actions to defeat CTG in the region by immediately empowering the communities and addressing their primordial issues. “As I have said before, we have to act fast, and that time is now. We will not allow COVID19 to stop us in delivering the services that our people needs” said Secretary Lapeña.

Aside from personally attending the 10th Meeting of the Regional Task Force, Secretary Lapeña also graced the inauguration of the newly constructed TESDA Regional Office XII building located at the Prime Regional Government Center, Purok Mabuhay 1, Barangay Carpenter Hill, Koronadal City on August 28, 2020. Other guests present were Senator Emmanuel D. Pacquiao, Deputy Speaker Ferdinand L. Hernandez, South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo S. Tamayo, Jr., Mayor Eliordo U. Ogena and Vice Mayor Peter B. Miguel of Koronadal City, and Mayor Leonard T. Escobillo of Tampakan, South Cotabato.

Secretary Lapeña thanked Senator Pacquiao for the latter’s support in the realization of TESDA Regional Office XII building in Koronadal City and TESDA XII Regional Training Center in Alabel, Sarangani.

Before the inauguration, Secretary Lapeña, TESDA XII Regional Director Rafael Y. Abrogar, II, and PLTC Celestino T. Daniel, Jr., commander of the South Cotabato 1st Provincial Mobile Force Company, had breakfast together with the former CTG rebels in South Cotabato. The CORDS assured the former rebels of TESDA’s commitment in providing livelihood opportunities to the people through technical education and skills development. (Jal P. Octavio, NEDA XII-PFPD)