“Mahuman na ang ceasefire. Mahadlok mi kung musubsob ang operation sa military batok NPA.” — Juan, a resident of Sitio Kidale, Tambobong village
By KENETTE JEAN I. MILLONDAGA
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – There’s no brewing storm, not even a man-made or natural disaster.
But residents of Sitio Kidale in Tambobong village, Baguio District have been forced to evacuate in the early days of January until today — days that they would have spent with hopes despite economic hardships, because after all, it’s a new year.
“Karong adlawa, mobaba na pod tong mga tao sa amoa aron magbakwit tungod sa gisulti sa mga military nga ilang gukdon ang mga NPA,” said Juan (not his real name).
Like any of the poor peasants in this interior village, Juan’s fears were aggravated because the ceasefire between the government troops and communist guerillas will end tomorrow, January 15.
“Mahuman na ang ceasefire. Mahadlok mi kung musubsob ang operation sa military batok NPA,” he said in a January 14 press conference facilitated by the group of peace advocates Exodus for Justice and Peace.
The Government of the Philippines and the Communist Party of the Philippines (GPH) have both declared ceasefires as confidence-building measure for the resumption of peace negotiations between the GPH and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
But even with the unilateral ceasefire still in force, 34 families from the two sub-villages in Tambobong village evacuated on January 1, after troops from the military’s 84th Infantry Battalion arrived from Camp Malagos in Calinan. During the last days of December, NPA guerillas, residents said, conducted medical and dental services, among others.
EJP which conducted an independent fact-finding mission said that the number of evacuees rose to 163 households or 978 individuals coming from the sub-villages of Paglaum, Kidali, Likuyan, Sumami and Lamod.
“They (military) warned us that we can only stay in our farm for two hours,” shared Petra (not her real name), also a resident of Sitio Kidale.
But this has been difficult for her, saying, it would take her about two hours before she reaches their farm area. She also shared one of her encounters with the military, when she felt harassed, intimidated:
“Mag-cutting unta mi og saging kay among pang-konsumo aron naa mi makaon sa evacuation center. Unya gisultian mi sa mga sundalo nga ‘pagdali kay taud-taod dunay nay encounter.’ Ana pa ang military sa amoa, ‘kanang inyong dala nga bugas, inyo nang ipakaon sa NPA?’ Unya gamay lang man ang dala namo nga bugas. Unsaon man na pagbahin sa NPA nga daghan man sila?,” Petra said.
Residents in this area said this is the first time they were forced to evacuate. But they expected that this won’t be the last, as members of the 84th IB are still present in Tambobong village.
And with the possible another round of evacuation, Petra could only say, “Latagaw na pod (mi). Di na katarong og trabaho.” (Kenette Jean I. Millondaga/davaotoday.com)