By Daisy Jane Apit and Roxan Vee Tampos
Davao Today interns
DAVAO CITY – After a month of seeking sanctuary here, Manobos are set to go home following an agreement brokered by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Davao del Norte Gov. Rodolfo del Rosario who secured a word from the military to withdraw from their operations in at least 11 villages in Talaingod town.
The military, headed by Colonel Harold Cabreros, commander of the Philippine Army’s 1003rd Brigade, agreed to withdraw from the villages of Pongpong and Bagang in Barangay Dagohoy and Bayabas, Sazo, Nasilaban, Banwalay, Nalubas, Bagang, Lasakan, Sambolongan, Bogni and Dulyan in Barangay Palma Gil.
The Manobos evacuated to Davao city on April 2 following intense military operations in Talaingod that resulted in reported cases of rights violations against civilians.
During Tueday’s dialog, Mayor Duterte also promised to provide 38 sacks of rice and 30 boxes of sardines as well as the transportation for the Manobos’ departure which was scheduled on May 1 and 2. Aside from the relief goods, the government also promised to provide kitchen utensils, seedlings and sleeping mats and medical provisions.
Asked on the conduct of the Manobo’s return, Gov. Del Rosario said that they “are paving the way for the return without the obstruction or distraction of either group.”
He said that there will be “no military, no police, no other escorts except the local government unit of Talaingod and support groups.”
Addressing to the Manobos, Del Rosario said “(i)f you remain to be not involved in any political activity there and just concerned be with the production of your food, your life there, I think the military need not be there.”
Salugpongan ‘Ta Tanu Igkanugon Spokesperson Datu Duloman Dawsay said “Nahimong mulisod na siguro mulapas sa katawhanong katungod kay naa nay kasabutan. Wa natay igong kabalaka nga musulti didto sa atubangan kay naa nay ebidensya. Ebidensya kadtong kasabutan na memorandum of agreement basta respetuhon lang sa military ang kasabutan (It would be difficult for the military to violate our rights now because there is already an agreement. The military should respect the agreement),” Dawsay said.
During the dialogue Tuesday, Colonel Cabreros gave a powerpoint presentation which claimed of the strong presence of the New People’s Army in Talaingod. For their part, he said they are conducting public service, adding that “we have brought in medical teams; we have also conducted the needs assessment to determine the needs of the people.”
Salugpongan and Pasaka representatives asserted that they will only go home if the troops would pull out from their villages so that they would be free from harassment from the military.
For Duterte “as long as there are NPA, and then there would always be a need for the military forces.”
Duterte also added that he could only appeal to the rebels to suspend their operations as well.
“We have to let the people settle and go back to the state of normalcy as soon as possible,” Duterte said.
Tuesday’s dialogue started at 3:15 in the afternoon at the Grand Men Seng Hotel and ended roughly 7 in the evening. (davaotoday.com)