By DAISY JANE APIT and ROXAN VEE TAMPOS
Davao Today Interns
DAVAO CITY- Support groups of Manobo evacuees welcomed the announcement of government officials that troops would pull-out in Talaingod to enable them to return home peacefully.
University of the Philippines Professor Andrea Malaya Ragragio who is also Defend Talaingod and Save Pantaron Alliance spokesperson, hailed the announcement which was the result of a dialogue and negotiations brokered by Davao City Mayor Rodgrio Duterte and Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo del Rosario last Tuesday.
“It accomplished a lot of our demands. The important thing is for the military to stop its operations in Talaingod, to abandon the civilian communities and the schools, so that the evacuees can finally go home,” Ragragio said.
Pasaka spokesperson Kerlan Fanagel said the government also acceded to the demands of the evacuees for assistance to repair their damaged houses and to resume farming by providing them with seedlings.
“The evacuees demanded for the release of the calamity funds as well as the food packs and relief goods that they would need for the departure,” Fanagel said.
Fanagel also slammed Oplan Bayanihan, the government’s counter-insurgency program, for allowing activities that clearly violate human rights, such as military encampment of communities, barangay halls and schools.
“Thus, even with the Manobo evacuees’ gain in forcing the military to pull-out, the struggle for respect of ancestral domain continues, the struggle to free the people, including the Lumads, continues,”Fanagel said.
For her part, Ragragio said she hopes that “the Lumads are able to run their schools once again, free from military intervention and threat of red-tagging.”
She said they also plan to accompany and stay with the Manobo evacuees for a certain period of time in order to monitor the developments in the area.
“While we are happy that we were able to have a dialogue and at least on paper and verbally, we got concessions from the government, that did not mean that we are going to let our guard down. We must continue to be vigilant,” Ragragio added.(davaotoday.com)