By EARL O. CONDEZA
Compostela, Compostela Valley – Some 300 Matigsalug evacuees were dismayed to learn that upon returning home to Side Four village, Barangay Mangayon, their water system was cut off, rice supplies and livestock were missing and their houses were riddled with bullets.
The Lumad farmers blamed government troops for wrecking their homes after a week of occupation.
After a five-hour walk from the town proper to Side Four, villagers saw that water pipes were cut.
Store owner Loriana Lamugay complained stocks were missing, her small store emptied.
“A sack of sugar was emptied, seasonings and other cheap products were also stolen,” she told Davao Today. She added that the goods she purchased were worth P 6,000.
When asked who she thought was responsible for the loss of her goods, Lamugay said it could be the military.
Upon their return, villagers found chickens were missing, with only feathers left in a plastic bag. Some of their pigs were also missing.
They also found their rice farms destroyed by birds and carabaos.
A house located almost a kilometer away from the community was found strafed with bullet holes on its roof and walls.
Village chieftain Datu Serrano Mambay-an said he was angered by the damages brought to his village. He said the village leaders would discuss to raise these complaints to local officials.
Meanwhile, day care teacher Emilda Colas said classes would resume soon in order to make up for the missed classes of one week.
Davao Today was part of the fact-finding team composed of local government staff and support groups led by the nongovernmental BALSA Mindanao that accompanied the Matigsalugs to their homes in the villages of Side Four and Puting Bato in neighboring Barangay Ngan.
The mission came after a two-day dialogue facilitated by local officials failed to secure an agreement with the Philippine Army’s 25th Infantry Battalion for them to withdraw from the villages.
The villagers wanted the soldiers to pullout from their communities after incidents of abuses ensued including threats against four children.
Cristina Lantao, one of the Matigsalug leaders, said the soldiers ‘harassed and used four lumad teenagers as guide in their operations.”
“Upat ka-hamtong ang gibaharan, gidapatan sa nawong, ug gigamit isip guide sa mga sundalo kagahapon. Ang usa kay, gitiunan og sunang sa iyang liog. Kanus-a pa man undangon sa military ang gubot na ilang ginadala batok sa amoang yanong sibilyan? (Four teenagers were threatened; one was slapped in the face, and used as a guide by the military. The other one was threatened with a bolo pointing at his neck. When will the military end this trouble that they are causing against us ordinary civilians?)”
Datu Adlawon Ocampo, tribal leader of Puting Bato said “Gina-abuso ang mga sibilyan sa mga sundalo. Naay mga kanyon ug machine gun sa amoang luna. Asa naman ang amoang katungod isip lumad?” (The civilians are being abused by the soldiers. There are tanks and machine guns in our community. Where are our rights as lumads?)
Soldiers under the peace and development teams were occupying the villages of Bongkilaton, Quarry, Spur Dos, Bango, Puting Bato, in Brgy. Ngan and in Brgy. Panansalan. Residents maintained that military encampments or installations should be located 800 to 1000 meters away from the civilian communities.
The residents wanted the cancellation of the mining permit and operations of Agusan Petroleum & Minerals Corporations and other large-scale mining operations in Compostela, “to give the Typhoon Pablo survivors a chance to recover from the super typhoon’s ravages.”
They also demanded for the provision of relief and rehabilitation such as 100 sacks rice and other food, and 100 sacks of corn seeds, farm tools and seedlings.
They also warned against non-retaliatory attacks such as threats and harassments, or extrajudicial killings.
Datu Serrano said the military officers refused to agree to these demands. (Earl O. Condeza/davaotoday.com)Compostela, human rights in Mindanao, militarization