Amidst the far-flung, mountainous wilderness of San Luis municipality in Agusan del Sur is a meek Lumad soldier armed with grit and dedication to fight for the rights and uplift the living conditions of his fellow tribespeople. His name is Staff Sergeant Narding N. Pascual, a proud native of the local Banwaon tribe.
As chief of the local defense and security in his home tribe, SSg. Pascual leads the group of indigenous Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGUs) in their struggle towards peace and sustainable development in the community. He has spearheaded a series of engagements against the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) rebel units—particularly those under the Guerilla Front (GF) Committee 88, considered as the biggest armed formation in the country. Highly revered and respected by his own tribespeople, SSg. Pascual confidently holds the ground in the San Luis area and neighboring communities even as armed terrorisations continue to exist.
SSg. Pascual’s efforts have caused a number of rebels to surrender before military headquarters, the recovery of firearms, takeover of a rebel encampment, and retrieval of rebel paraphernalia and documents—thereby weakening insurgent operations in the area.
An advocate of nonviolent struggle, SSg. Pascual is instrumental in the realization of community development projects which have tremendously benefited the Banwaon tribes in San Luis.
Among these projects is the construction of a two-classroom primary school building for elementary pupils in the area. Although a high school graduate, SSg. Pascual firmly believes in the importance of education as a tool for development.
On another front, SSg. Pascual did the groundwork for the rural electrification project in Sitio Km. 24 in Mahagsay, San Luis. Because of his persistent engagement with the municipal government and the villagers, power lines were built, connecting over 60 households including his command’s patrol base. Throughout the duration of the electrification project, SSg. Pascual provided road security to utility workers and materials so as to be safe from rebel attacks. With electricity now available in the household, the huts where Banwaons live have portable radios and light bulbs.
SSg. Pascual also initiated a livelihood project in the form of a falcata tree plantation covering four hectares in Mahagsay. Falcata is a source of raw material for paper and plywood and is sold by the trunk to ready buyers in Agusan del Sur and neighboring provinces. The plantation started with about 6,000 seedlings sourced locally by SSg. Pascual, and is now being maintained by the Banwaons in the area.
Finally, SSg. Pascual and Supreme Datu Napongahan are working towards securing a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) for the Banwaon communities numbering about 5,000 individuals in seven barangays in San Luis, and another barangay in the adjacent municipality of Esperanza in Agusan del Sur.
A recipient of the Distinguished Conduct Star, the country’s second highest military award after the Medal of Valor, SSg. Pascual is married and has four children. CRSAFP/MCAG