By Ace Morandante and Kristine Gadiano
DAVAO CITY – Over 100 Matigsalug tribal evacuees from Barangay Mangayon, Compostela Valley sought shelter at the barangay hall of Brgy. 74-A Matina Crossing after leaving their place.
Oraya Mansayloan, purok chairman of barangay Mangayon, who is among the evacuees said they left their community due to the encampment of the elements of Army’s 66th Infantry Battalion in their community in Side 4.
“Nagbakwit mi tungod sa mga sundalo nga nagpundo diha sa among komunidad atong 23 sa udto. Unya pag-abot nila sa among purok nangutana sila sa akoa kung pwede sila magpondo diha sa Side 4. Giingnan nako nga pila man mo kaadlaw? Ana sila duha ka tuig kay manghatag daw sila’g kaayuhan (We evacuated because the soldiers have occupied our community on November 23, noon time. When they reached our village they asked me if they can stay in Side 4. I asked them how many days will you be staying? They told me two years because they will be providing assistance),” said Mansayloan.
He said they fear that they might be caught in an event of an encounter between government troops and New People’s Army fighters because of this encampment.
Rius Valle of the Children’s Rehabilitation Center said there are a total of 133 individuals that comprised 20 families who evacuated.
Valle said 54 of them are children, 27 women and two pregnant women who are now housed at the rooftop of the barangay hall. Joseph Encabo, kagawad of Barangay Matina Crossing said that, “since then, the barangay had been very open to accommodate the Lumads, offer them proper shelter and give them assistance but unlike the other ethnic groups, Matigsalug tribe came to the city for a reason”.
Encabo said that whatever the reason may be, they are doing their best to provide for their needs.
“Our obligation is to provide them proper shelter. At least now, they have proper and clean classrooms, a bigger space to sleep and rest. As of now, this is our primary obligation to them. We are only responding to their needs,” Encabo said.
Encabo said that the barangay council has limited funds “that is why they are planning to solicit donations from private individuals and groups, and food assistance from the city government”.
Encabo also added that they are willing to share their expertise on livelihood to the Lumad evacuees and also provide medical awareness programs focusing on sanitation and proper hygiene together with the barangay nurses and other government agencies.
“We could somehow coordinate with CSSDO, in terms of continuous support or maybe extend it to DSWD. I think those are the agencies that can provide more support to them than the barangay,” he added.
He added that the barangay council will support and guide the evacuees until they can go back to their home. But Cristina Lantao, secretary general of Sabokahan Lumad Women Organization Southern Mindanao, that they will not go back to their homeland until the military will pull-out in their community. (davaotoday.com)