Militarization ‘triggered’ folks to evacuate-A A +A
Sunday, October 6, 2013
MILITANT groups clarified Sunday that residents were forced to leave their homes in Barangay Mangayon in Maco, Compostela Valley due to militarization and not because of the presence of the New People's Army (NPA).
Captain Raul Villegas, spokesperson for the Army's 10th Infantry Division, earlier said that some 300 residents of sitio Side 4 in Mangayon evacuated to Compostela town gymnasium due to fear they will be harassed by the communist rebels.
But Juland Suazo, spokesperson for Panalipdan, said in a statement posted on his Facebook account that the residents fled their homes to protest intense military operation in sitio Side 4.
Sheena Duazo, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Mindanao secretary general, also told Sun.Star Davao in a text message on Friday that the lumads fled their homes after soldiers from 25th Infantry Battalion occupied their community.
Suazo said the military camp was mounted near a school that was re-built and managed by indigenous people (IPs) with the aid of the non-government organization and religious congregations and the community.
"Another truth here is the militarization through the deceptive Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP) is paving the way for mining exploration of Agusan Petroleum and Minerals Corporation, an affiliate of Danding Cojuangco's San Miguel Corporation," Suazo said.
He said residents of Mangayon are campaigning against large-scale mining and immediate pullout of what he described as "biggest private army" of the mining companies -- the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Duazo also pointed out that the presence of the mining companies in the area may also deter the development of farmers and small-scale farmers.
She then called for pullout of troops as the mining company may operate and destroy the lumads' ancestral domain.
Villegas, for his part, said there is no truth to the statements of the progressive groups.
He said the groups have long been convincing the residents in the area to participate in their rallies against the government.
"Matagal na may detachment sa area. Nandyan na rin yang mining company noon pa, bakit ngayon lang nag evacuate ang mga residente kung yan pala ang pinuproblema nila? How do they define militarization?" Villegas said in a phone interview.
"Nagsisinungaling sila. Sino ba'ng nangungumbinsi sa mga tao na sumali sa kalakaran nila? In fact, the residents have been requesting detachments in the area due to fear on the rebels and those progressive groups who'd been forcing them to join rallies," he added.
Villegas said the displaced residents reported their situation to government troops in the area who responded to their call, but while on their way to Sitio Side 4, they were allegedly attacked by the rebels.
"Akala ko ba hindi sila (progressive groups) nabibilang sa NPA yun ang sabi nila. Pero ba't pinagtatanggol nila ang NPA? Sa tuwing may mga harassments or atrocities ang mga NPA bakit wala tayong naririnig sa mga progressive groups? Yun lang," Villegas said.
He said that at present, some of the evacuees have returned home when the military promised to keep an eye on suspected NPA rebels, while other residents preferred to stay in the evacuation center for the meantime.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 07, 2013.