DAVAO CITY – Some 133 survivors of Typhoon Pablo from Compostela town in Compostela Valley Province returned home today after hearing news that the Army has left their community.

Jimmy Saypan, secretary general of Compostela Farmers Association (CFA) told Davao Today that they left Davao City around 11:55 am Monday.

The barangay hall gym of Barangay Matina Crossing served as the evacuees temporary shelter for  more than two weeks.

Saypan, during the interview said the residents still have to walk three to four hours to reach their village in Side 4, Barangay Mangayon, Compostela.

The evacuees were among the thousands affected by Typhoon Pablo in 2012. > Christina Lantao, member of Nabokasa-Sabokahan Confederation of Lumad Women, said that the team of soldiers encamped at Purok 4B in Barangay Mangayon ”departed a few days ago”.

The groups said, the soldiers, led by a certain Lt. Danjo Lagula of the Bravo Company from the 66th Infantry Battalion, encamped in the purok, merely 50 meters away from Salugpungan Learning Center, a lumad school accused of being run by the New People’s Army.

Lantao said the school has already been subject to attack by the military since 2013.

“In 2013, members of the 25th IB encamped in the Salugpungan school. The confrontation by the community and progressive groups against these armed men were caught on video, belying the statements of the AFP that soldiers do not encamp in schools and communities,” Lantao said.

But, CFA chairman Bello Tindasan said that the presence of military forces in these rural communities is part of the mining operations in Compostela.

Tindasan said the soldiers “are present to conduct psy-war campaign to drive lumad out, in order for mining companies to enter and operate in the ancestral lands with no resistance”.

“Agusan Petroleum and Minerals Corporation have used on multiple occasions elements of the 66th IB to harass and intimidate civilians who are vocal in their dissent against the entry of the said corporation. We see no difference in the reason for the presence of these men under Lt. Lagula to be encamping in the lumad community in Purok 4B,” Tindasan said.

He said the threat against the community remains because Agusan Petroleum “does not back away from its exploration and possible operation, the military is here to stay.”

Tindasan said the people will be “terrorized and will have to evacuate again.” (davaotoday.com)

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