Against their will, villagers in Baganga set up a barangay defense outpost

Oct. 25, 2009

Davao Today

BAGANGA, DAVAO ORIENTAL ( Just a few days from now, villagers of Sitio Coog, Barangay Mahan-ub in Baganga town will start running the Barangay Defense System (BDS) outpost to monitor and gather intelligence reports about the Communist New Peoples Army (NPA). But even before they could open the outpost on October 28, the villagers are already complaining about the prospect of the 24-hour shift duty.

It will disrupt our farming activities, one villager complained to a fact-finding and medical mission team that entered the area on October 21 to 23. BDS members dont have salaries. What will our family eat?

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Each household had to shell out P10 to set up this barangay defense system outpost in sitio Coog, Barangay Mahan-ub in Baganga town of Davao Oriental. ( photo)

The villagers, who refused to be named for fear of repercussions, said they were also afraid of getting caught in the crossfire in the raging fight between the military and the communist guerillas.

Soldiers belonging to 67th Infantry Battalion told the residents that the BDS is a way of maintaining peace in the community. The soldiers arrived in sitio Coog in the first week of September.

The military introduced their slogan, which says, Ipadayon ang demokrasya, ibagsak ang komunista! (Continue democracy, down with communism), one of the villagers told Davao Today.

The BDS checkpoint will monitor the people who will enter the community. Villagers will see to it that visitors and strangers will write their names in the logbook. They will also check the strangers belongings to ensure that they dont carry food supplies that might eventually reach the NPAs.

Villagers also said the soldiers have asked them to protect them (the soldiers) from the NPA.

They said that we should promise that nothing will happen to them especially from attacks coming from the NPA, said one woman. But we told them we cannot promise that because we are just civilians. We can do nothing about that, she said.

Villagers will guard the outpost in a 24-hour shift, the women reporting in the morning and the men at night. If any of them fails to report on their duty three times, he or she will be called to explain to the battalion command stationed within the barangay.

The villagers, themselves, built the BDS outpost on October 1. Each of the 120 households shelled out 10-peso to buy wood, nails, GI sheets from the sum they had collected and built the structure. On Wednesday, October 21, the military inducted the new BDS officials from among the 18 sitios (subvillages) of Barangay Mahan-ub. (Grace S. Uddin/

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