Daisy Jane Apit and Amal-Ryan Rinabor
Davao Today interns
SOMEWHERE IN COMPOSTELA VALLEY – Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said that a New People’s Army (NPA) leader had asked him to help the Manobo evacuees who left their homes three weeks ago because of alleged abuses and threats perpetrated by the Army.
“Nag hangyo sila nga tabangan naku ang mga taga Talaingod,” said Duterte
Duterte sait it was a certain “Ka (Comrade) Caloy” of the NPA’s Comval-North Davao South Agusan Sub-regional Command who requested him. He said he had a short tete-a-tete during the release of “prisoner-of-war” Sgt. Jeric Curay who the rebels captured last April 4 and held for 19 days.
“He asked me to help the lumads, I said I’ll do what I can,” said Duterte.
Duterte earlier said that he will not let the Manobos “die in hunger” and asked the Manobo tribal evacuees to write him officially for help. He said the Commission on Audit might question him on his spending city funds to help them if there is no official letter to show.
He said the COA became stricter with disbursement of funds following public outcry on the misspending and misallocation of the pork barrel.
However, Duterte said he also told Ka Caloy that he would not intervene on the military operation in Talaingod and ask for the pullout of its troops “because it is not within my jurisdiction”.
Almost 1,000 Manobo Lumads (or tribes) are now in the compound of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP) after they fled their homes in Talaingod, Davao Del Norte.
They alleged that Army soldiers in their area conducted aerial bombings near their communities and prevented them from going to their farms”.
They also accused the Army of holding and “molesting” an old-woman and used her as guide in their operations.
The Army has belied the accusation. They also held a news conference with the town mayor to debunk the claim, and insisted that it was activist organizations who helped persuaded the tribes to abandon their communities. (davaotoday.com)