Alamada evacuees fear going home

Alamada Mayor Ernesto Concepcion said the evacuees, temporarily housed in several public school buildings in the town’s poblacion, are reluctant to return home despite the assurance of military and police protection.          

Concepcion told  DXND that the evacuees, numbering at least a thousand, were driven from their villages on April 2 after government troops clashed with some elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Sitio Pilubdan, a hinterland area in Barangay Dado

A member of the Army’s 9th Scout Company was killed in the encounter, according to Lt. Col. Jonathan Ponce of the 6th Infantry Division.         

The Army recovered in the clash site four bodies of slain MILF rebels.

Concepcion said they can’t blame the evacuees from staying at the evacuation centers “because their villages had been attacked many times in the past.”

Ponce said that on March 15, the MILF guerrillas abducted and used as human shields villagers Rolijun Lindayao, Rio Lindayao, and Ritoy Elarkosa from Barangay Dado while retreating to the nearby hinterlands. The three were released two days later.

Concepcion said efforts are still underway to convince the rebels to reposition away from Barangay Dado to allow the return of evacuees.

Farmer Romeo Nietes,  said they are scared of the “continuing roaming” of MILF rebels in the villages they abandoned early this week. 

Nietes' family is temporarily housed at the national high school in Alamada, one of the evacuation centers in the area.  

The MILF could not be reached for comment. (Malu Cadelina-Manar/MindaNews)