Second of three parts (read the first part here)
DAVAO CITY – Aside from being required to sign on the logbook at the entrance and exit points of Barangay White Culaman in Kitaotao town, Bukidnon, other residents have also experienced restrictions in their communication after members of the Army allegedly prohibited them to use mobile phones.
A resident of Sitio Malinaw told Davao Today in an interview during the 3-day fact-finding mission initiated by cause-oriented groups that they are “being prohibited by the military to use mobile phones.”
Sitio Malinaw is 30-minutes away by foot from Purok 2, the central area of the Barangay.
Wenelita Indao, also recalled that even the person who is selling retail electronic load was not spared from the restrictions. She said that there are members of the community whose phones were confiscated.
Due to fear of being accused as sympathizers of the New People’s Army and being illegally detained, Indao, together with her children and other community members left their town and seek refuge at the Mother of Perpetual Help parish church in Arakan Valley, North Cotabato.
Indao even recalled that when her husband was about to harvest their crops, the military was looking for him to detain him.
“That was when my husband decided to leave the village and go with us in Arakan,” she said.
As of now, there are already 55 families staying in Arakan, while five families have sought refuge to their relatives outside Barangay White Culaman.
During the said “Mercy Mission”, the delegation were not able to get inside Purok 2 due to the assertion of the town leader, Barangay Captain Felipe Cabugnason that they will not allow anyone from the delegation to enter, accusing the group as supporters of the NPA.
The group arrived in Barangay White Culaman at 11:00 pm on September 16.
The next day, the group went to the village hall in Purok 2 to pay courtesy to the village head. However, community members in the area who were armed with sticks blocked their way going to the barangay hall and told the delegation that they only need to talk to the leader of the group.The group then retreated fearing it might cause trouble.
During the second attempt to enter the village, women leaders from the delegation were allowed to enter the area. The media were not allowed to witness the dialogue.
Those who were allowed to speak to Cabugnason were Reverend Maryjoy Mirasol, secretary general of the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) in North Cotabato, Pastor Mercy Antipolo of United Methodist Church, Bai Jocelyne Agdahan from Bukidnon, who wanted to check her relatives from Purok 2 and Education Coordinator of Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Incorporated (Misfi) Academy, Milagros Maglunsod-Tan.
Mirasol, said that the moment they got in, the barangay hall was locked. She said Cabugnason was “not even (formally) dressed and there were underwears hanging inside his office.”
Mirasol described the barangay hall as “no longer an office, but a garage.”
She said “Army uniforms are hanging inside the barangay office.”
She added that she saw “at least 200 community members, and around 30 military men” during their dialogue.
Maglunsod-Tan followed the three leaders upon her request to clarify that their school is not built by the NPAs as accused by Cabugnason.
Maglunsod-Tan said that Cabugnason already decided to draft a resolution for the closure of the school, but she said that they “will not allow it.”
“I myself, won’t allow the closure of the school. We have sacrificed a lot considering the distance and the support it provides for the Lumad children here,” Maglunsod-Tan said.
“Even his [Cabugnason] kin studied here, so if he believes that this is school of the NPAs, then is he saying that his kin are also NPAs?” she added.
Maglunsod-Tan said Cabugnason should have “at least expressed gratitude to MISFI” for providing basic services like education and health in remote areas like Barangay White Culaman.
She also expressed her worry after Cabugnason told them that “Lumad schools support groups including church people are no longer welcome in White Culaman after the Mercy Mission.”(davatoday.com)