A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed recently between Central Mindanao University (CMU) and Bukidnon Free Farmers Agricultural Laborer Organization (BUFFALO), Tried Agricultural Movers Association of Rural Active Workers (TAMARAW), Land Tiller Inhabitants of Musuan (LIMUS) or BTL on Inclusive Development and Sustainable Peace last February 11, 2020.
Dr. Jesus Antonio G. Derije, the University President and respective BTL Presidents: Mr. Winnie L. Loable, Mr. Joven M. Jugos, and Mr. Evaresto R. Forten, signed the document with the presence of Armed Forces of the Philippines led by 403rd Brigade, Col. Ferdinand T. Barando and 88th Infantry Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Franklin F. Fabic, as witnesses.
The MOA reinforces President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70, otherwise known as, “Institutionalizing the Whole-of-Nation Approach in Attaining Inclusive Peace, Creating a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, and Directing the Adoption of a National Peace Framework signed on December 4, 2018.
Thus, invigorating the Presidential Proclamation No. 476, otherwise known as, “Reserving for the Mindanao Agricultural College Site Purposes Certain Portions of the Public Domain Situated in the Barrio of Musuan, Municipality of Maramag, Province of Bukidnon, Island of Mindanao.”
Dr. Derije said that he initiated the activity aiming to harmonize and provide a venue to meet halfway, thus, bid for a win-win solution to the long-drawn-out conflict of two parties for the last 33 years.
“I aspired for progress and peace in line with the EO 70 issued by Pres. Duterte and with the solemn advocacy of our Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Provincial Governor, Jose Maria R. Zubiri, Jr. and Hon. Manuel F. Zubiri, Congressman of the 3rd District,” said Dr. Derije in an interview.
“…I know that one of the purposes God send me back here to my homegrown place, my beloved Alma Mater, is to resolve this discord,” he added.
CMU’s role will focus on helping facilitate the implementation of pro-people policies and guidelines following the provisions of the EO 70. The University will also conduct regular Consultation-Dialogue and facilitate partnership with key government sectors and sourcing of assistance to help alleviate the life of informal settlers.
He mentioned particularly that this could not happen before on account of the hard-stand law then, but due to newly issued and existence of the Whole-of-Nation Approach this time, informal settlers must be given their basic human needs and services. Hence, politicians from Bukidnon robustly support it; otherwise, this event will not be realized.
“It is part of my destiny to be the 9th President of CMU because I have a mission here, it is not just to govern CMU but laying groundwork to be instrumental in ensuring that the less fortunate, the less privilege informal settlers and Indigenous People (IPs) to be unified and be encouraged to befriend and support one another,” said Pres. Derije.
Furthermore, the BTL will coordinate with CMU and other agencies for peaceful negotiation of all programs and projects that will be implemented within the area and be an advocate of EO 70 in attaining its objectives. They will voluntarily share every harvest, Four Hundred (400) sacks in 50 kilos each, of the total harvested rice within the area utilized and stop linkages with CAMO’s affiliated groups and promote partnership with law enforcers, LGUs, and other government agencies.
Mr. Evaresto R. Forten, Chairman of LIMUS, expressed his sincere gratitude for the chance and understanding of the President unto them and for bridging peace and order between CMU and BTL through the said MOA.
Mr. Herman Santillan, Jr., Vice-Chairman of TAMARAW also said that he is happy for the MOA. “Dako kayo among pasalamat kay Pres. Derije nga iyang nalantaw o nakita ang mga problema namo sukad sa una hangtod sa 33 ka tuig karon pa na resolba nga sa iyang pagdumala ug paningkamot nga ang CMU ug BTL farmers magkahiusa pinaagi ani nga MOA,” he said.
Both parties are hopeful that the agreement will strengthen the peace-building initiatives, promote inclusion and empowerment, thus, fulfill the four-fold functions of the university.
The ceremonial signing was also attended and witnessed by Mr. Wenceslao M. Magallanes, Chief of Staff of the Provincial Agrarian Reform Office (PARO), Mr. Alvin V. Alsa, Private Secretary of Hon. Jose Joel P. Doromal, Municipal Mayor of Maramag, Dr. Ronnel V. Sudaria, VP for RGMO, Dr. Jose Alexander C. Abella, VP for Academic Affairs, and members of Administrative Council.