2,000 displaced by anti-NPA drive in Tulunan

Reports from the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) in Tulunan said 2,082 individuals have evacuated from Barangays Bacung, Banayal, Bituan, and Paraiso, all in Tulunan, and from a barangay in Magsaysay, Davao del Sur. 

The evacuees, mostly B’laan children, were temporarily housed in at least 10 evacuation sites in Tulunan, the MSWDO said. 

Meanwhile an Army official in North Cotabato announced he has ordered a pullout of his troops in Tulunan after ‘flushing out’ the communist rebels in the area.

Lt. Col. Milfredo Meligrito, commander of the 57th IB based in Makilala town, said air and ground strikes against the NPA have driven out the rebel group from Tulunan.

“It’s not true the fighting had spread to four villages in Tulunan, as claimed by other groups. Our offensives were limited only to Barangay Bacung where we monitored a number of NPA rebels,” said Meligrito in a radio interview. 

In a press statement issued today, the Mount Alip Command of NPA Front 72 in Far South Mindanao Region has denied reports the fighting since February 2 has killed eight of their members.

Ka Irma, spokesperson of Mount Alip Command, said only two rebels died in encounters.

“Of the two, only Jerry Saliga, known as Ka Edmond, is the legitimate NPA member who died fighting for the cause of the revolution. Pedro Fabella, also known as Commander Jeck-Jeck, is no longer an active NPA member. He stopped joining the organization in 1999.  But he died fighting for the cause of the people in the area,” the statement said.

The NPA also denied the Army overran one of their training camps in Bacung.

“We are guerillas. We do not stay in one place. We had long abandoned the place, even before the military launched its Oplan Bantay Laya Part 2,” said Ka Irma. 

Ka Irma added Oplan Bantay Laya Part 2 aims to ‘flush out’ NPA rebels in areas where multinational corporations operate plantations.

Tulunan and Makilala host banana, rubber, and sugar cane plantations.

Meantime, the 57th IB has continued to detain alleged NPA leader Danilo Maligante
who was reportedly captured last week in Tulunan. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)