Conflict displaces lumads-A A +A
Monday, October 7, 2013
LAGONGLONG, Misamis Oriental -- Some 440 members of Higaonon tribe have been displaced by the ongoing military operations in Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental, the Municipal Social Welfare and Development office (MSWDO) reported.
The displaced families evacuated from Sitio Kamansi, Barangay Banglay after the intense firefight between members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) there.
“Dili sayon, kilometro lang ang distansya sa gubat gikan sa among mga balay (It’s not easy, the firefight are taking place just a kilometer away from our homes),” said Jimmy Hilogon, one of the evacuees.
He said they clearly heard the explosions that sent them panicking and prompting them to vacate their village.
“Ang mga bata namo among kabalak-an kay basin madalahig (We are worried about our children for they might get caught in the firefight),” Hilogon said.
One of the community elders named Datu Mansindalan told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro that the explosions and gunfire were getting nearer to their community.
“Paubos ang buto, padulong sa community (The gunshots are nearing the community),” said Mansindalan on their decision to leave Kamansi without much preparation.
Mansindalan said members of the AFP arrived here Sunday last week, September 29, to conduct census while some of their units are on pursuit operation against the NPA rebels.
“Ana ang military nga nay meeting sa buntag kay manglista sila og pangalan (The military told us that we would have a meeting in the morning and they would list our names),” said Francisca, a mother of six children.
She added that on Monday morning, September 30, while the military was listing, a message through radio came in, notifying them (military) about the encounter between their companions and the rebels.
“Nadungog namo ang sinukliay sa bala niabot og mga 30 minutos (We heard the exchange of bullets that lasted around 30 minutes),” said Francisca.
Francisca said that the firefight started around 8 a.m. Monday, September 30.
“Sa Lunes sa hapon bomba naman ang nangboto, kusog na gyud kaayo (Monday afternoon bombs had been exploding, it was deafening),” said Francisca.
She said the bombs came from AFP helicopters that arrived around 2 p.m.
“When we checked Kamansi, there were no people left, so our village leaders decided to gather whatever we can and leave,” said Francisca.
Francisca is from Tapol, an adjacent village of Kamansi.
“Duha ka oras among baklay kay dili maagian og sakyanan gikan sa amo (We walked for two hours because vehicle could not reach our village),” said Nenita Hilogon, 51 years old and a mother of four children.
She said they reached the Ara-ay village and had to get some rest and find shelter to spend the night.
Ara-ay is another sitio in Banglay.
“Lunes, alas-tres sa hapon, gikuha mi sa among kapitan nga si Joniporte Redundo padulong sa Banglay (Monday, 3 p.m., our barangay captain named Joniporte Redundo took us from Ara-ay to Banglay),” said Nenita.
She added it took them seven hours to reach Barangay Banglay, and while they’re traveling, rain poured heavily.
“Kusog kaayo ang ulan mao daghan nagsakit sa amo (The rain was heavy, that is why many of us got sick),” she said.
At present, the displaced residents are staying at the Lagonglong town gym under the care of the MSWDO and other non-government organizations that provided food, medicines and other forms of aid.
The ongoing military operations are the government’s response to the raid owned up by the NPA in Sitio Lantad in Kibanban village, Balingasag town, Misamis Oriental.
One soldier and four members of Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit were killed during the raid.
The rebels claimed no one died from their ranks, however, the military insisted there were casualties on the NPA’s side, considering the blood trail found in the area where the clashes occurred.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 07, 2013.