First of three parts
DAVAO CITY – Farmer villagers in a village in Bukidnon, northern part of Mindanao is experiencing hamletting similar to the scenario of Martial Law, an independent fact-finding mission of human rights groups reports held last September 16-18.
The Help Kitaotao Mercy Mission was participated by more than 300 individuals coming from different humanitarian groups, church people, and support groups from Davao City, North Cotabato, and Northern Mindanao Region. (Read: Groups set 3-day mission to help Lumads in Bukidnon )
Hamletting refers to a military term of restricting a village in a controlled area to deny the enemy with access to food and other support.
The recently conducted fact-finding mission of cause-oriented groups in Barangay White Culaman, Kitaotao town in Bukidnon reported that residents of the village are restricted in their movements from going in and out of the village as ordered by the village chief, Felipe Cabugnason.
Each villager is required to sign the logbook upon leaving and entering the village.
This policy was implemented after the August 26 where13 residents of Purok 2 who are members of the local farmers group Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Barangay White Culaman (Namabaw) were “illegally” arrested and accused as members of the New People’s Army.
In an interview with Davao Today, a resident of Purok 2, who requested anonymity for security reasons, said she herself thought of leaving their community due to the strict rules.
Maria (not her real name) said, “if only we had harvested all our crops earlier, we would have already left.”
She lamented that “before anyone could go to any place one must sign the logbook, and write your name and the place where you are going to.”
Maria recalled that there was one time she did not write on the logbook, after asking prior permission from the guard on-duty that she will be going to her farm to harvest.
She was later accused of running away, even when she told them that she did not bring any clothes with her.
When asked if they have reported the issue on the local officiald, Maria said that they “could not raise it to the village chief because he was the one who allowed this to happen.”
Maria said “members of the military are now staying in Purok 2 and are recruiting residents to be part of Barangay Defense System (town guards).”
Maria said that the military who are now staying in their community “won’t allow anyone to go out.
Maria said their life before the “encampment” of the military in their community “was comfortable”.
“But now, our movement is being monitored, which is scaring us farmers,” she said. (davaotoday.com)