DAVAO CITY – City life is far different from the way of life of the indigenous peoples’ in the countrysides, said Juanito Binaton, an evacuee who is among the hundreds of evacuees here in Davao City.
Binaton’s family arrived here in the later part of August, while some Lumads from the towns of Kapalong and Talaingod in Davao del Norte arrived here as early as March this year. They all cried that militarization of their community is the reason why they evacuated.
But because of their evacuation, Binaton said their family is now separated. He said his four children were able to evacuate in the area of Magpet in North Cotabato.
Binaton was able to bring with him only three younger children and his wife here. He said they left their farms and animals in the village.
“Daghan among tanom kay panuig man to, wala na-harvest among humay, ug naa man wala na naatiman kay ang mga nabilin didto ang nagharvest. Ang mga butang pud namo sa balay gi-pangsunog n pud (We have lots of crops. We were not able to harvest the rice we planted. Some were harvested by our neighbors, but they were not taken cared of. Some of the items in our homes were also burned),” he said.
Binaton said it is possible that their farm animals like their chickens, carabao, horse, and pig are not there anymore when they come back.
“Sayang gyud kaayo kay kami mobalik mi og uno (It’s really a loss, because we have to start back at one),”he said.
Binaton also shared that they are not used to living inside the evacuation center and that the city climate has caused sickness among them, especially their children.
Binaton, a Kulamanon-Matigsalug said they want to go home to their village in Barangay White Kulaman, Kitaotao Bukidnon.
But he said, they are afraid to go back home because the military holds a list of “over 67” name from their community who they suspect as supporters of New People’s Army.
He said those on the list are targeted for arrest and filing of “trumped-up” charges. He said he is also included in the list of suspected NPA members.
Binaton is a council member of the Lumad-farmers group Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Barangay White Kulaman (United Farmers of White Kulaman Village). He is also the secretary of Kahugpongan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Kitaotao (Kitaotao Farmers Association).
“Kami ang mga lumad sa Barangay White Kulaman. Kami gusto na gyud unta mi manguli og kanang naa nay seguridad sa among kinabuhi pag-uli namo. Ug dugang sa among panawagan nga pag-uli namo kanang mga military i-pullout na gyud, wala na didto sa among mga lugar kay dili na mi gusto nga magpabilin pa ang mga military particular sa 8th IB ug 23rd IB diha sa among lugar sa Barangay White Kulaman kay sila ang nakaingon ug sila ang nakaguba sa among panginabuhian (We are Lumads from Barangay White Culaman and we want to go home with assurance that our lives are secured. We are also calling for the pull out of the military, particularly the 8th Infantry Battalion and 23rd Infantry Battalion because they are the reason why our lives are disrupted),” Binaton told Davao Today inside their makeshift shelter house in the United Church of Christ Haran compound here.
Before the village evacuated in August the Army has served 57 search warrants to arrest suspected New People’s Army personalities.
Capt. Alberto Caber, chief of Public Information Office of the Army’s Eastern Mindanao Command said the composite teams from the Army’s 8th Infantry Battalion and 4th Infantry Division, and the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Public Safety Company recovered “(a)t least one improvised M16 rifle; one M79 grenade launcher; three rifle grenades; two unexploded improvised explosive device (IEDs); detonator, blasting caps; assorted ammunition; and subversive documents.”
But Isidro Indao, spokesperson of Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Kitaotao, however, said that those who were arrested are their relatives, “and they are all civilians”.
Minors as young as 8 and 12 years old were included in the arrest together with their parents.
Read related story: 15 farmers, including minor arrested in Bukidnon, forced to board helicopter
On September 16-18, an independent probe was launched to look into the arrests of civilians.
The mission reported that residents of the village are restricted in their movements from going in and out of the village as ordered by village chief, Felipe Cabugnason.
Each villager was required to sign the logbook upon leaving and entering the village. A policy implemented immediately after the August 26 arrest of suspected NPA rebels.
Binaton’s family is actually homeless now, after suspected members of the Army and men from their village torched his house on the night of October 3.
Binaton denied that they are NPA supporters and said that they do not even have enough resources to support their needs.
“Sa tinuod dili mi mga supporter sa NPA. Ngano man? Wala may among igo nga ikasuporta sa npa. Dili tinuod ilahang ginapang-ingon. Gani maglisud mi sa among panginabuhi, mga panginahanglan namo, asin sulod sa balay, betsin, ug uban pang pagkaon namo naglisud na mi. Kana pa bang i-suporta namo sa NPA. (The truth is we are not NPA supporters. Why? We can’t even support our needs like salt, Vetsin (monosodium glutamate) and other food items. What more can we support for the NPA?),” lamented Binaton.
The news was relayed to them through cell phone by their their relatives who reside in the nearby villages.
Christmas time will be over soon, but the situation of Lumad evacuees like Binaton is far from over. (With reports from Earl O. Condeza and Ace R. Morandante/davaotoday.com)