The military’s 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion (MIB) on Saturday distributed over 800 rubber seedlings to Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in the upland village of Ampatuan in a bid to help natives have alternate sources of income.

2Lt. Giftsy Labaniego said the seedlings were distributed to IPS in far-flung Barangay Tomicor here.

“It was part of our community support program as we continue to win the hearts of our IPs,” Labaniego said after he and his staff handed over the seedlings to Editha Panes, IPs mandatory representative of Barangay Tomicor.

The Maguindanao provincial agriculture office provided the seedlings intended for all IP communities that have limited or no agricultural support at all.

Maguindanao Governor Esmael Toto Manguadatu has specific programs for the IPs who he described as protectors of the forest as their ancestral domain.

Labaniego also said that the outreach program is one way of bringing the IPs away from communist movement recruitment in the hinterlands.

Panes lauded the efforts of the military for the delivery of the seedlings. She assured the soldiers that the IPs would take care of the agricultural assistance.

Rubber is a rising industry in Maguindanao, which has a vast track of uninhabited forest lands suitable for rubber and heat resistant crops.

“We have just planted the seed of peace in this community,” Labaniego said as his team left the mountain village. (PNA)