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From firefights to boodlefights

MSU Faculty, Students Pioneers Sinumaan Development Tour

About 80 faculty members and students from the Mindanao State University (MSU) completed the pioneering Sinumaan Development Tour on June 26, 2022.

From an area known for intense firefights, the highlight of the activity was a boodlefight at Masjid Maas in Sitio Banglot, Upper Sinumaan.

Majid Maas served as an Abu Sayaff bulwark before Operators and CAFGUs from the 6th Special Forces Company, 2nd Special Forces Battalion, Army Engineers from the 545th Engineer Battalion and CMO Operators from 1st CMO Company, 12CMO Battalion liberated the area from ASG influence last February 2022.

Initiated by the 6th SF Company, 2nd SF Battalion under the 1101ST Infantry Brigade, the developmental tour intends to remove the stigma of the Sinumaan Complex as a hotbed of terrorism and promote the area for local tourism.

Widely known as an ASG stronghold, the complex sits on the foot of Mount Sinumaan, Mount Gasam, Mount Tunggol, Mount Mungit and Mount Bagsak. The area covers the villages of Barangays Bagsak, Kulambo, Kuhaw, Bud Bunga, Upper Sinumaan and Lower Sinumaan.

The two-hour tour took the MSU faculty and students into conflict areas recently liberated from the Abu Sayaff Group.

Utilizing the newly opened Sinumaan Road Network that cuts through former ASG bailiwick, the trip enters the Sinumaan Complex via Brgy Bilaan-Brgy Bud Bunga road and ends at Brgy Lower Sinumaan. This gives the local tourists a feel of the local’s conflict struggle and how development is the key to resolving root causes of extremism.

“This is a truly enriching experience. In my years educating learners, this expository tour allowed our students to directly learn from actual ground conditions. This experience will allow our student leaders to craft programs that are responsive to the actual needs of our fellow Tausug on the ground and become agents of positive change,” notes Mary Grace Andes, adviser of the MSU Filipino Club.

Participating students came from the Bachelor of Arts in English Language Studies, Filipino Club and College of Arts and Sciences Student Organization.

“We are looking forward to work with our security partners to conduct volunteer works in uplifting education in this area. We will be back with our education volunteers,” She adds.

The circuit also includes a peek into the developmental projects in Barangay Bud Bunga and Upper Sinumaan in Talipao.

This activity is a two-way process. For the locals, it opens up the socially excluded communities for possible external interventions as part of their social preparation. For our prospective benefactors, it creates avenues and enables our local partners to participate and contribute in rehabilitating conflict-affected areas in their own capacity.

Since last November, troops from the 2nd Special Forces Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Benito G Ramos Jr. intensified Community Support Programs and Mass Base Operations in Upper Sinumaan to enable an environment conducive to peace and development.

Mass Base Operations (MBO) is one of the peculiar capabilities conducted by Special Forces Operators to deny enemy presence in targeted areas. MBO in turn, degrades the adversary’s human and logistical resources, effectively forming part of the military’s resource control operation. During the conduct of MBO, SF Operators also organize locals into a readily mobilizable force for various tasks.

These activities intend to catalyze positive social cohesion between the locals and our operators to promote positive peace. By investing on both social capital and physical infrastructure, we are enabling an environment conducive to sustain development, governance and security.

Prior to the Sinumaan Tour the MSU advisers and members were welcomed and given a camp tour at the 1101st Infantry Brigade under Brigadier General Eugenio C Boquio.

After the orientation, the students underwent a awareness session on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE) at the 2nd Special Forces Battalion in Bud Bayug, Brgy Samak, Talipao.

More than just fighting the enemy, we are here to build communities. With our partner-stakeholders, we are here to reach the unreached, protect the vulnerable and liberate the oppressed. Indeed, it takes the whole of the Filipino people to fight terrorism – the root causes of terrorism. (PR/RVC)

Photo Credits:
Cpl Agbayani, 6SFC, 2SFBn
PFC Panaguiton, 1CMO Company, 12CMO Bn
PFC Calisang, 1CMO Company, 12CMO Bn
PFC Pablo, DPAO, 11ID

About the Author

Rene Carbayas

Assistant Regional Head

Region 9

Media practitioner, a teacher by profession, an advocate for youth, peace and environment, culture and the arts, playwright and theater artist, earned his Masters Degree in Theater at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, and pursued studies in public administration at Western Mindanao State University. Some 18 years in public service and today as Assistant Regional Director of the Philippine Information Agency Region IX.

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