Duterte to give ₱100-M aid to Mindanao indigenous groups for livelihood projects

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 1) — Indigenous groups in MIndanao are set to receive financial aid from the government, to help with livelihood projects as well as to counter the influence of communist insurgents.

This was the message from President Rodrigo Duterte during an indigenous peoples (IP) leaders' summit in Davao City Thursday.

"Mag-release ako ng 100 million, temporary, pangtawid ninyo sa normalcy. ‘Yun ang gamitin ninyo,” he said.

[Translation: I will release ₱100 million, temporary, which you can use to transition to normalcy. Use that.]

In a speech delivered almost entirely in Bisaya, the President said that aid alone would not be sufficient. He enjoined members of tribal communities to learn a skill so they can help their families.

Duterte also stressed the importance of education among Lumad communities, and said the government would be willing to fund the education of young tribe members.

“I will send your children to any good school, or if you’re in Manila and you want to send them to San Beda, Ateneo, La Salle, you may enroll them there and the government will pay for the tuition fee,” he said.

Apart from extending financial aid, the President said the government would also recruit qualified tribes people to the Armed Forces as he wanted to bolster security among tribes and fend off the influence of communist insurgents in their areas.

Duterte added he would see to it that ancestral domains would be protected, and investors in areas with indigenous peoples would be chosen carefully so these places would enjoy sustainable livelihood.

The President was in Davao City for Panagtagbo Alang sa Kalinaw ug Kalambuan: An Indigenous Peoples Leaders’ Summit, a two-day event where IPs can express their concerns about government agencies.

IP and Lumad leaders from Eastern Mindanao are attending the event.

Attendees of the summit were customary leaders, elders and representatives of IPs from Mindanao comprising Regions 10, 11, 12, and 13. They stood to strengthen and push for self-determination in accordance with their customary laws, indigenous cultures and traditions.

The summit is the first meeting of tribal leaders under the Duterte government and also the first time that President Duterte met Lumad leaders from Eastern Mindanao.