Lumads in Paquibato evacuate after NPA threat

MALAGOS, Davao City – At least 17 families of a lumad tribe in Marilog District, this city, were evacuated after receiving threats from New People’s Army allegedly eyeing the tribe’s village as the site for the forthcoming anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) next month.

Datu Tresio Lumuyok, tribal chieftain of Matigsalog tribe, said residents have abandoned their houses in Purok 26, Sitio Alon, Brgy. Malabog and seek refuge in Brgy. Marilog since November 6. He led his people in search for a safe place after Leoncio Pitao, head of NPAs operating in the hinterlands of Paquibato, threatened and forced them to take part in rallies and demonstrations in protest to the presence of government troops in the area. He added that residents were suspected as military informants scouting the whereabouts of the notorious group after several encounters transpired in the area.

“Pitao said that we are feeding information to soldiers about their presence and that we betrayed their group. Because of that we are scared of going back to our village”, said one of the evacuees, who requested not to be identified for security reasons.

According to Lumuyok, Pitao is planning to make their village the venue for the 44th year of CPP on December 27.

Datu Buaya Ansaud welcomes the evacuees in his village in Sitio Malikongkong as Davao City Social Services and Development Office had been providing for their needs in cooperation with 84th Infantry Battalion.

“We see how the NPAs jeopardize the safety of these families who are living peacefully in the area”, said Lt. Col. Edgar Nigos, commander of 84th IB.

He said that the incident is a wake-up call for everybody to denounce the presence of the rebels in the area instead of the military. “It is our mandate to protect the people and not to harm them. That’s why we would like to encourage everyone specially the government leaders to condemn the presence of the NPAs so that we can all live peacefully”, he said.

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