DAVAO CITY – An interior village in Monkayo, Compostela Valley, expressed fear over operation of the Army’s 25th Infantry Battalion in the community, following alleged targeting of its residents in anti-Communist patrols.
Purok Chairman Lino Inbad said that the Army has been tagging residents of Purok 4, Sitio Tagbaw, Barangay Rizal as members of the rebel group New People’s Army.
Inbad said the repeated harassment happened since July 17 when some military soldiers who were roving around community have been telling people that they would be “put inside a caserole.”
When residents know that military will be roving in their community, Inbad said they would no longer go to their farms.
On August 7, Sunday, for instance, Inbad said the soldiers military already prevented them from going to their farms “as there are still soldiers left in the area.”
Farmers were prevented to go to their farmlands after an armed encounter between government troops and the NPA last August 4, Thursday.
The encounter, according to the AFP, resulted to three soldiers and one NPA killed.
Maryjane Masaring, 27 and a mother of two, said that if not for a hill in front of their house, they would have witnessed the encounter 100 meters away and may put them in the line of fire.
They scampered for safety towards the barangay center for safety.
“Hadlok jud kayo, gikalintura ang duha ka anak tungod sa panghitabo (It was really scary. My children even got fever after the incident),” she said.
“I was told by my brother-in-law to bring our children, while he was gathering the corn,” she said.
Masaring’s family depends on the corn they are farming; it serves as their daily consumption for survival.
Together with her children, they rode on motorcycle up to the town center, leaving her in-law and corn plants that is worth two sacks ready for harvest.
Despite the threats of being tagged as members of the rebel group, Inbad said that they would endure hunger in the town center than be exposed to danger. For survival, community members shared with each other what could be shared such as rice and vegetables. Thirty seven households were affected by the incident.
“We did not evacuate because we do not have a source of livelihood there (in Barangay Rizal),” Inbad said.
“We will endure the Army harassment, but we wish we could talk to them so we could go back to our farms,” Inbad added.
Masaring’s family, who left their house with nothing, has been eating porridge since August 7.
“If we no longer have something to eat, we will ask from the neighbors. The unity is alive here,” Masaring said.
Masaring also said that this is the first time they experience this in her seven years of residency in the community. She said she hope for their community to be peaceful again.
On Tuesday, August 9, various groups visited the community of Inbad and Masaring to bring relief goods; rice, canned goods, and easy-to-cook foods.
According to Exodus for Justice and Peace, a church group who led the relief mission, said they have to provide food to the displaced community.
Pastor Nonoy Cofreros, of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines in North Eastern Davao District Conference, said
“we can forward this to the current administration, much more to President Duterte who thinks of the welfare of the farmers, the poor,” Confreros said.
The relief mission was participated by human rights group Karapatan, UCCP, and support groups from Monkayo, Compostela Valley Province. They brought about 50 bags of relief goods giving to the house holds of the community members of Purok 4. (davaotoday.com)