Davao Today

DAVAO CITY — Seeking refuge after having failed to get the support of provincial government authorities in Agusan del Sur, some 500 Agusanon Manobos arrived here in the wee hours of dawn Tuesday.

The Lumads endured an eight-hour travel in an elf truck from Prosperidad, capital town of Agusan del Sur. Women, children and infants comprised the majority of the evacuees at the city’s Bankerohan Gym.

Manobos were angry that Agusan del Sur Governor Adolph Edward Plaza ordered them to return to their villages to dialog with the military.

“Unsaon namo pag-uli nga naa pa may gyera didto sa amoa?(How are we going home when there’s still a war going on there?)” said Jocely Andaliki “At least diri, safety among paminaw, di pareha didto sa amoa nga giabog mi mismo sa among gobernor, (Here, we feel safe, not like there where our governor drove us out).”

Andaliki thought her children aged 6, 4, 2 and a three month old infant, would not survive their ordeal. “Gipangsapupo namo among mga anak, byahe mi sakay sa elf gabii gikan alas otso abot mi diri sa Davao kadlawon, (We cradled our children, we rode the elf from eight in the evening and we arrived here at dawn)” Jocely said, her eyes not veering away from her infant who was still asleep on the thin blanket spread on the bare floor of the gym.

Nakalimot gani mig dala og banig sa among pagdali-dali, (We even forgot to bring a mat in our haste),” Jocely said. She said two of her fatigued children are now suffering from fever.

The Manobos also had to endure the heat at noon inside the gym, but they said it was better than facing the danger in their villages. “Unya ra gyud mi manguli ug wala na sila, (We’ll return when they are not there),” Jocelyn said, referring to the members of the 26th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and members of paramilitary, Bagani, whom she said, harassed and tortured villagers, including the two minors whom they accused as New People’s Army (NPA) members.

Lisud man gud kung magpabilin mi didto sa amo  unya naay military, kami may pasanginlan nga kami daw manug-an ngadto sa mga NPA, (It’s hard to remain there when the military will blame us for reporting to the NPA)” she added.

They are also seeking Davao peace advocates and officials to help facilitate their call for a military pullout in their villages.

Soldiers arrived in their village in Loreto town on July 22, incidentally after President Aquino’s State of the Nation address was heard on the radio. The military forces allegedly harassed on July 23 two youths who were on their way to register for the upcoming Barangay SK elections, according to the human rights group Karapatan.

The residents started evacuating to Kauswagan Elementary School on July 24, but felt threatened as soldiers dropped by and took videos of them.

This forced them to head to the Provincial Capitol to seek Governor Plaza’s intervention on Friday. Their trip to the Governor ended with a deadlock in negotiations and also a scuffle among the Lumads and police.(Cheryll D. Fiel/

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