CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — Unfulfilled promises of assistance and clearing of their village of soldiers and insurgents were the reasons displaced villagers Lagonglong town of Misamis Oriental rejected their planned transfer to a new location following the provincial government’s move to remove them from the De Lara Park on Tuesday.
The evacuees from Sitio Camansi, Barangay Banglay have been living in tents at the provincial capitol compound on Velez Street here since June 3, last year when fighting between government troops and New People’s Army insurgents broke out in their community.
After living for more than a year at the park, the provincial government dismantled their temporary dwellings and attempts were made to bring them back to Lagonglong where they will be resettled and given livelihood assistance.
Instead of going back home, the evacuees chose to seek shelter at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) property in Barangay Macasandig Tuesday afternoon.
Junreboy Hilogon, one of the evacuees, said they stood firm on their resolve not to go back to Lagonglong for fear that they will be once again disappointed.
Hilogon said they are wary of any offers made by the local government, although they made it clear that they will not go back home in Camansi as long as there is a military presence there.
In a press conference at the capitol Tuesday afternoon, provincial legal officer Cerillo Pacana said reporters the evacuees were offered to be resettled in an area in Banglay, where they will be provided with temporary shelters and livelihood assistance.
Hilogon recalled the Lagonglong municipal government did not want them to stay at the town’s gymnasium, and then they were brought to Barangay Lumbo at the height of the armed conflict in Camansi last year.
At Lumbo, he said, the local officials did not extend them any form of support despite assurances that their needs will be addressed.
“Daghan pasalig, pero dili mo moadto, kay wala gihapon natuman. Basin pareho ra gihapon sa una (We will not go. There were promises made but will not be fulfilled. It will be just like the last time),” Hilogon said.
What the evacuees want, he said, is for Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Vincente to meet with them and have the proposal be put in writing.
“Gusto namo pormal, dili berbal (We want it formal, not just verbal),” Hilogon said, referring to whatever agreement that they and the provincial and municipal governments can come up with.
Meanwhile, Pastor Rufiniano Cabada, head of the UCCP facility in Macasandig, said he welcomed the displaced Higaonon families on the approval of Rev. Mario Ebora, the UCCP conference minister for Central Mindanao.
The Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon provinces are under the UCCP’s Central Mindanao Conference.
“We took them in and prepared food and sleeping quarters for them,” Cabada said, adding that the evacuees are staying an entire floor of the church’s building, with toilet and running water.
He said they are asking for donations from members of their local churches for the villagers’ provisions and other needs for the duration of their stay. (davaotoday.com)