CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — Recent fighting between the New People’s Army (NPA) and government troops has once again drove civilians out of their homes in Sitio Kamansi,Barangay Banglay in Lagonglong town,Misamis Oriental,as their village chief was also arrested by anti-narcotics agents for possession of sachets of alleged illegal drugs.
Residents said they fled their community since May 26 and had stayed for a few days in a covered court in Barangay Lumbo,a neighboring village, before moving to Vicente de Lara Park at the Provincial Capitol grounds late Sunday night.
This was the sixth time residents left their homes for fear of being caught in the crossfire,starting in 2012.
But while the villagers were running in fear for their lives, their barangay chairman, Honeforte Redondo Jr. was arrested by the agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-10 which raided his house on June 1.
PDEA-10 said Redondo, reportedly a known drug personality in the province,was on the agency’s watch list.
Confiscated from him were 12 sachets of alleged crystal meth or shabu, estimated to be worth P136,000.
Sarisa Acosta, who acts as spokesperson for the displaced residents, said they just want to go back their homes.
“Our appeal to the government is to help us go back to our homes once the military has finished its operations,” Acosta said.
Kamansi tribal leader Reynaldo Ayuma said they will stay at the park until the fighting between the government forces and the armed group stops.
“As long as there is still fighting, we will not go back. We don’t mind if we stay for a year or more. We also don’t the military to camp out in our in village. They can camp out but it must be far from where we are. We don’t to be caught in a crossfire,” Ayuma said in vernacular.
Angie Compas, 26, a mother of four, said she and her family had no choice but to join their neighbors in getting out of Minkamansi, although she had given birth to her youngest child two weeks ago.
“We heard gun shots and loud noise. I think those came from cannons. We did not wait to get killed. We fled as we were able,” Compas said, adding that she was just grateful her two-week-old infant did not catch an illness while staying in the temporary shelter.
According to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) chief Fernando Dy Jr., they have already put in place a response protocol to ensure that the needs of the evacuees are addressed, especially their temporary shelter, bathroom, and food.
He said there are about 137 individuals or 38 families who are temporarily staying at the park.
“Gov.[Yevgeny Vincente Emano] has instructed us to take care of them as long as they are staying there,” Dy said.
He said Lagonglong mayor Jack Puertas has also provided assistance to the evacuees during their stay in Lumbo.
The villagers fled following the encounter between the state forces and NPA fighters on May 27.
It was reported that two of the rebels were killed while a soldier was wounded in the clash.
Recovered from the scene of the fighting were AK-47 and M16 rifles, communication devices and personal items belonging to the NPA members.
In a recent interview with Lt. Col. Roy Anthony Derilo, commander of the Phil. Army’s 58th Infantry Battalion, said the soldiers were deployed to clear Banglay of insurgents so the government could bring in projects in the area.
Derilo said government agencies are hesitant to go to the village and implement projects due to the presence of the NPA. (davaotoday.com)