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Communist-terrorists threaten lumads; hundreds flee from homes

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By Bonita L. Ermac and Mike U. Crismundo

Bancasi, Butuan City — Around 20 Indigenous Peoples,  (IP) families of more or less one hundred individuals fled from their homes when communist terrorists threatened the peaceful community of Sitio Lagangan, Brgy. Caras-an, Tago, Surigao del Sur.

The lumads, belonging to a Manobo tribe, left their homes and sought shelter with their relatives in Brgy Caras-an, Tago town. According to one of the evacuees, the rebels had always been a threat to their lives. “Nagpaila sila nga sundalo sa kabus apan sukwahi kini sa ilahang gipakita sa amoa. Binulan kini silang nagapangayo sa amo ug butaw (They introduced themselves to us as soldiers but they did not act like soldiers. They have been asking for revolutionary tax from us for months now.)

“Tanang nagpangidarun ug kinse anyos pataas matag bobong ila kining gipangayuan ug singko pesos kada bulan (They are asking from lumads who are 15 years old and above five pesos every month),” the evacuee said. Some of the lumads received threats through text messages from the terrorist group saying that the latter will attack their community if they will not support their movement and that they will be constantly terrorized. This prompted the lumads to evacuate from their community to escape the NPAs.

The rebels continue to disrespect and violate the rights of the lumads to live peacefully. Immediately, the local government of Tago together with the security forces and other concerned agencies convened and discussed the situation to help the evacuees.

According to Brig. Gen. Franco Nemesio M. Gacal, commander of the 402nd Brigade: “The communist terrorists have violated the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) again. They should respect the rights of our lumad brothers and the CARHRIHL to which they are a signatory.”

“The Philippine Army will take appropriate action on this. We will not allow these communist terrorists to displace the normal lives of our lumad brothers,” Gacal added.

Clashes intensify

An armed clash between troops of the 58th Infantry Battalion and more or less 30 communist terrorists took place yesterday at the outskirts of Sitio Kapatagan, Brgy. Umagos, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental.

The firefight, which ensued for about 30 minutes, took place after troops of the 58th Infantry Battalion, a unit operationally controlled by the 403rd Infantry Brigade, launched pursuit operations against the NPA terrorists who attacked the Municipal Police Station in the neighboring town of Binuangan on Sunday.

Troops were able to recover an M16 rifle and an M1 Garand Rifle while scouring the encounter site. Globs of blood were also seen along the terrorists’ withdrawal routes which indicate casualties on their side. No government troop was injured during the encounter.

Brigadier General Eric C Vinoya AFP, Commander of the 403rd Infantry Brigade recently ordered the 58th Infantry Battalion to conduct relentless focused military operations against the NPA terrorists who perpetrated the attack in Binuangan Municipal Police Station. In his statement, he appreciated the efforts of the troops as well as the local residents who continue to support the Brigade’s campaign against NPA’s terrorism, lawlessness, and criminality.

“This incident is a manifestation of our relentless efforts to go after NPA terrorists who continue to threaten our communities in the provinces of Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental. In particular, I would like to commend our soldiers from the 58th Infantry Battalion for their untiring effort to bring justice and the long arms of the law to those who perpetrated the attack of Binuangan Municipal Police Station, which threatened our peace-loving people in that area.” said Vinoya.

In another development, troops of the Army’s 58th Infantry Battalion (58th IB) engaged fleeing communist terrorists in a fierce firefight on Wednesday, after four days hot pursuit operations in Misamis Oriental town, said Capt. Norman M. Tagros, Chief Civil Military Operations (CMO) officer of the Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade on Thursday said.

The combat maneuvering troops of the 58th IB under Lt. Col. Francis Carandang engaged the members of guerilla-Front Committee 4-B believed led by a certain commanders “Jakem,” “Amboy” and “Makong Mansigyaw” of the CPP-NPA East Misamis Oriental North Eastern Bukidnon Sub-Regional Command, military intelligence sources also said.

Before the gun battle took place, highland villagers already reported to the pursuing troops the presence of communist terrorists in the upland Lagonglong area. “This goes to show that the NPA terrorists have no safe place to hide,” said Capt. Joe Patrick A. Martinez.

The gun battle started at 11:10 a.m. on Wednesday in an outskirt of Sitio (sub-Village) Kapatagan, Barangay Umagos, Lagonglong town, Misamis Oriental province, he said.

“According to ground report, the gun battle was so intense that the communist terrorists ran away after 30 minutes of fierce firefight,” Capt. Tagros said.

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