4,000-strong barangay defense force to fight NPA

Nov. 06, 2008

DAVAO CITY The Task Force Davao (TFD) has organized a 4, 000-strong barangay defense system (BDS) to counter the growing number of Communist guerrillas operating in the outskirts of the city, Col. Oscar Lactao, TFD commander, said during the weekly television program Gikan sa masa, para sa masa.

Lactao said the military gathered local residents and organized them into a BDS to counter the growing presence of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Toril district. He said the military recruited one “volunteer” from each household for the barangay defense system.

Lactao assumed as the new TFD chief on August 29 this year. He said the district of Toril, which covers 25 barangays (villages), is considered an NPA expansion area because it is where the Communist guerrillas launched a series of raids and ambuscades in the first quarter of the year.

The Communist website owned up to the March 1 ambush of a military unit in sitio Havana, in Toril’s barangay Catigan, where three government troops were killed and six others were wounded.

In June, NPAs also disarmed two policemen manning a checkpoint along Lizada highway in Toril.

On May 11, the NPA disarmed the security personnel of the Lorenzo farm in Pangyan, Calinan district, carting along 10 high-powered rifles and taking into their custody former army sergeant Jose Manero, who was already working as the farms bodyguard at the time of the raid.

On July 11, the NPA disarmed a security guard of the Caraga Filchin Corporationan agricultural firmin barangay Lasang in Bunawan district and raided the banana plantations of Nonong Rodriguez in barangay Tigatto; and the Cabaguio Farms and Lapanday Farms in Fatima, Mandug on July 30.

Lactao said that aside from Toril, the Task Force Davao also set up barangay defense systems in the communities of the neighboring districts of Bunawan, Buhangin and Calinan.

“It (the BDS) will not protect communities but will only open the way for other graver human rights violations,” Rubi del Mundo, NDF spokesperson said.

He said that in Luzon, the installation of BDS resulted to human rights abuses like witch-hunting, forcible and indiscriminate arrests, and fake surrenders.

“The military acts as private goons and guards for big logging & mining concessionaires and big landlord compradors,” Del Mundo said.

As part of their training, volunteers learn from the TFD the “techniques on profiling suspected terrorists and how to report suspicious-looking persons to the 911, the Philippine National Police, and the TFD.

The Task Force also sets up “fixed checkpoints” in barangay Ilang in Tibungco in the north and in barangay Sirawan, Toril in the south to counter threats of “terrorism and insurgency,” according to Lactao. On top of these, the TFD deploys some of its personnel to patrol public places, guard commercial establishments like malls and conduct random checkpoints every day for two hours. (Marilou Aguirre Tuburan/davaotoday.com)

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