POLICE have warned residents of three barangays of Tadian, Mountain Province that their water system might be contaminated because of the trash left behind by communist rebels near their water sources.
Police Regional Office Cordillera (PRO-Cor) Director Israel Dickson said they discovered two New People’s Army (NPA) camps near the water sources of Duagan, Sumadel, and Nabitic villages.
Combined troops of the Police Regional Mobile Force Battalion (PRMFB) and 53rd Division Reconnaissance Company of the Philippine Army discovered the first camp on April 5, just 50 meters away from the reservoir tanks of the three barangays.
Authorities found dirty bandages, medical waste, and other detritus scattered right next to the reservoir and intake tank of the villages’ water system.
Another encampment was discovered about 300 meters inside a cave, where bloody bandages, used dextrose bottles, syringes, and catheters were scattered along with leftover food and containers.
Poisonous ingredients for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) along with finished products such as grenades and claymore mines were also discovered.
“It is now apparent that the NPA has advanced from being a peace-and-order problem to being a source of health problems. In putting up camps near community water sources, they are blatantly violating the rights of communities to clean and contamination-free potable water,” Dickson said.
The Tadian Municipal Health Office is still waiting for the military to finish clearing operations before it can address water contamination in these barangays.
The same problem was also raised by the residents of Bagnen, Bauko, Mountain Province whose water source was also contaminated not long before the encounter between the government forces and the NPA bandits happened.
They claim to have been suffering from dirty water as the NPA set up camp near their water sources.
Dickson appealed to the community and other local tourists to temporarily refrain from going to the areas of Bauko and Tadian, Mountain Province until all areas have been cleared.
He said the rebels also allegedly set fire to the forests to escape from pursuing government forces and planted landmines, putting the lives of residents and livestock at risk.
Dickson called on the residents of remote barangays to periodically inspect the surroundings of their water sources for NPA encampments.