By Mike Crismundo
CAMP BANCASI, Butuan City – The command group of the Army’s Northeastern and Northern Mindanao 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division (4th ID) on Friday said that all their field units and all operational control (Opcon) units are ordered to protect all highland villagers from any harassment by lawless elements, particularly the Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs).
All field unit commanders who are under the operational and administrative control of the 4th ID are also directed to ensure the delivery of development programs and other basic needs to the highland people, especially the indigenous peoples (IPs).
“Our highland villagers must be protected and the development implemented by the government must not be delayed,” stressed the 4th ID commanding general, Maj. Gen. Ronald C. Villanueva, in an interview with The Manila Bulletin.
The 4th ID chief pointed out that the village people, especially the tribal community must not be coerced by “false promises” and must not be harassed by any lawless elements.
Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Roy Anthony Derilo, commanding officer of the Army’s 58th Infantry Battalion (58th IB) made his strong stand that his unit will not vacate its current position.
“We won’t leave Kamansi until we see development,” the 58th IB commander stressed.
“We will ensure that the delivery of development programs is not hampered by any militant group,” he said.
The ground Army commander cited the call of few militant groups who joined some evacuees now temporarily sheltered at the provincial capitol in Cagayan de Oro City, “to pull out” their unit in Kamansi area, Lagonglong town, Misamis Oriental.
Accordingly, some of the evacuees fear for their life and security if gun battles might take place between government forces and CNTs.
However, the 58th IB commander instead would push through with building another detachment near where the lumad (native) evacuees live.
“Our main concern is the safety of the villagers, especially in this far-flung community,” the 58th IB commander added.