DAVAO CITY, Philippines— Residents of Barangay Cabuyoan in Mabini Town, Compostela Valley on Tuesday, March 14 hit the military for the aerial strikes on Saturday as they belied the army’s claim that there was an encounter with the New People’s Army.
In an interview with Davao Today, Juliana De Asis, 53, said she saw the bombs fell from the helicopters.
“We thought there was encounter [with the NPA] because they dropped the bombs. But when we asked around the next morning, there no encounter happened,” De Asis claimed.
De Asis heard the first explosion around 2:00 p.m on Saturday, followed by a series of explosions. She said an estimate of seven bombs were dropped from four helicopters, after a three-hour operation against the NPAs. She also heard what she described as a “barrage of gun fires.”
Three of her neighbors—all whom had just given birth—now require medical attention after the explosion had jeopardized their health, she said.
“We have neighbors who had just given birth. One lost consciousness, the other one experienced bleeding, and another shivered in fear,” De Asis said.
De Asis, a member of the peasant group Hugpong sa mga Mag-Uuma sa Mabini, called on President Rodrigo Duterte to continue with the peace talks with the communists, restore the implementation of ceasefire and pull-out the military from communities.
“We call on the President to reinstate the ceasefire and the peace talks. We, farmers, have always been the victims of war. Our second request to President Duterte is to pull-out the soldiers from our farmlands so that we may live in peace,” De Asis said.
Hendriza Medado, 58, criticized President Duterte for ordering the AFP to heighten their offensive operations against the NPA.
“As for you, Mr. President. You know, we are of the same blood! We are not NPAs. Why should we be caught in the middle of this chaos? Then you tell them to pulverize, flatten the farmlands? Why? That farmland that I bought, that is mine. Why would they flatten it? Who are they to do so?” Medado said.
“What’s very painful for our side is that we are being treated as mere collateral damage. That should not be,” she said.
Medado was among the 100 individuals evacuated to a nearby Cabuyuan Elementary School to seek protection from the intense fire fight between the two opposing groups.
Three soldiers hurt
In a statement, Municipal Administrator Primitivo Razonable said there was no civilian injured or killed during the incident, while three soldiers were injured after an improvised explosive device exploded.
Meanwhile, Captain Edson Abello, Civil-Military Operations Officer of the 1001st Brigade confirmed the use of close air support in order to provide cover for the extraction of their wounded troops.
“We did the air support to rescue our wounded personnel because if we don’t do that, it will be difficult for us to rescue them, and the soldiers could die from their injuries,” Abello told Davao Today in an interview.
Abello also said they already gave assistance to the displaced residents who temporarily stayed in Cabuyuan Elementary School. He added that they distributed food packs and safely transported back the residents o their homes aboard dump trucks provided by the provincial government, Monday afternoon. (davaotoday.com)