Army, militants set dialogue on evacuees’ return-A A +A
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
THE 26th Infantry Battalion (26th IB) of the Philippine Army along with Loreto, Agusan del Sur Mayor Dario Otaza and some progressive groups are set to have a dialogue in Davao City this week to discuss terms that may lead to the return of the evacuees to their homes.
This after Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) commander Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz III and Bayan-Southern Mindanao spokesperson Sheena Duazo met on Monday.
"Pinag-usapan namin kung papaano iyong pagbalik nila sa kanilang bayan. Inimbitahan na namin si Mayor Otaza na pumunta rito para makapag-dialogue kami," Ricardo told reporters Monday.
Duazo said they have also invited the battalion commander of the 26th IB and its paramilitary unit Bagani Force to answer the allegations of harassment in the town of Loreto.
Duazo also called for the pullout of the 26th IB from the area since they are the threat to the community. She proposed that the military could still be in the area but they should maintain at least a 500-meter distance from the community.
Duazo also told Cruz about the alleged atrocities being committed by the Bagani Force in the area.
Cruz, however, said they will not be pulling out the troops in the area and they won't be complying with the 500-meter distance proposed by progressive groups since they are not breaking any law and that they are just conducting the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan and the Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP).
"In fact, ang mga sundalo nga ang tumutulong sa mga tao dun. Accepted nga ng mga local people ang mga sundalo dun. Naglabas nga ng resolution ang mga barangay officials accepting the military to conduct Bayanihan operations in the area," Cruz added.
He also said that the allegations of harassment committed by the Bagani Force have yet to be confirmed.
The 134 families or 422 individuals evacuated from the town of Loreto and has settled at the Barangay 5-A Bankerohan since August 6.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte told reporters Monday that the evacuees should be vacating the Bankerohan gym as soon as possible so that the residents in the area could utilize the gym.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 22, 2013.