KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/21 Jan) – Red Cross volunteers from North Cotabato distributed on Tuesday some P3.3-million worth of food and other relief items to more than 600 families from two villages in Kabacan town displaced by the ongoing fighting between warring groups in the area.
Psalmer Bernalte, vice-chair of the disaster management unit of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Cotabato chapter, said each family was given P6,000 worth of food and other items, including water jugs and kitchen utensils.
Funds for the relief distribution came from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Bernalte said.
The PRC reported that of the 613 displaced families, 104 have set up tents beside the barangay hall of Nangaan; 46 families are in Sitio Kibuda, also in Barangay Nangaan; 38 families are located along the boundary of barangays Nangaan and Simone; and the rest are in Barangay Pedpoluan in Carmen town.
The evacuees, according to Kabacan municipal social welfare officer Susan Macalipat, have refused to return to their homes because sporadic clashes are still going on in the area.
The latest incident was monitored around 3 a.m. last Tuesday, where three suspected members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) under a certain Commander Kineg were wounded.
Supt. Joseph Semillano, chief of Kabacan police, identified the injured rebels only with their aliases – Gapac, Mama and Ugka.
According to PRC reports, the fighting between the warring rebel groups in Kabacan town started in January 9. It resulted to massive evacuation of residents from Barangays Simone and Nanga-an.
Nangaan is considered a satellite base of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under Commander Datu Dima Ambil. It is also being claimed, however, by the Simonense Manuvus as part of their ancestral domain.
Fred Edillor, spokesman for the MNLF in North Cotabato (called by the MNLF as the Sebangan Kutawato State Revolutionary Committee), said many of the lumads in the area have been recruited to join MILF Commander Kineg’s group.
The MNLF, according to Simonense Manuvu tribal chieftain Alex Sangcupan, has tied up with a Malaysia-owned agri-business firm to put up a plantation of African oil palm in the village because of its proximity to Paidu Pulangi or the Rio Grande de Mindanao.
The allegation, however, is denied by top MNLF officials in the province. (Malu Cadeliña Manar / MindaNews)