Duterte, Del Rosario to tackle Talaingod problem

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Sunday, April 27, 2014


DAVAO CITY Mayor Rodrigo Duterte will be sitting down with Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo del Rosario along with evacuees from Talaingod, Davao del Norte, some progressive groups, and military officials in the city tomorrow, to address issues that caused the Manobo-tribes to vacate their land.

The mayor, in an interview, said he and the provincial governor scheduled the meeting tomorrow at around 3 p.m. Duterte added that he will try to find a solution to their problem with Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo del Rosario.

Over a hundred Ata-Manobo residents of Talaingod have sought temporary residence at the Haran House of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) for almost a month now after claiming militarization of their villages and military abuses.

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"I have requested [from the military and the Talaingod town evacuees] to have a meeting. Let us find out what ails everybody. I also invited governor del Rosario; he might want to share a moment with us in solving this problem," Duterte said.

"We need to talk. Hindi naman puwedeng ganyan na lang. We need to hear from both sides before we come up with a solution or agreement on what is best for all," Duterte added.

In a separate interview, del Rosario echoed the same reaction. He said the local government cannot conclude anything until the issue has been discussed. He also admitted that he requested the Davao City mayor to help them on the matter.

"When I got this chance talking with Mayor Duterte… we both agreed to meet, to sit down and talk about the problem on how we can settle this with those people [evacuees]. We will try to work something out at sana nga okay ang kinalabasan," del Rosario said.

The Salugpongan Ta Tatanu Ig Kanogon (Unity in Defense of Ancestral Land), Pasaka (Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao), and other organizations, including lumads, urged the local government to pull out the military from the communities instead.

Groups issued such call following the alleged aerial bombing, massive harassment, and encampment in places where soldiers were not supposed to put up camps. Others from their tribes have sought refuge in Bukidnon, Northern Mindanao.

Datu Duloman, spokesperson of Salugpongan ‘Ta Tanu Ig Kanogon, said that while they long to go home after weeks of staying at the Haran House, they will not do so if the military continue to operate in the community. He added that they do not need the relief goods from the government but to have a peaceful community.

Talaingod town Mayor Basilio A. Libayao earlier denied the accusations of the militant organizers against the local government unit and military. He said there are no reports of harassments and aerial bombing that has been committed by the military in the area.

Colonel Harold Cabreros, commander of the Philippine Army's 1003rd Brigade, also said the residents sought the assistance of their troops from the 60th Infantry Battalion (60IB), 68th IB, and Special Forces, following the presence of the New People's Army (NPA), who installed camps in some areas of Talaingod town.

The Municipal Council of Talaingod declared a state of calamity last April 1 and has allotted an initial amount of P500,000 to cater the needs of the evacuees. But the militant organizations started moving out the evacuees after the declaration, which is an act considered by Libayao as an insult to his constituency.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on April 28, 2014.

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