NPA ‘harassment’ triggers evacuation in Sarangani

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/18 June)– Around 300 residents of a remote village in Malungon town in Sarangani Province have fled their homes following alleged harassment by armed members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the area.

Malungon Mayor Reynaldo Constantino said Wednesday the residents of Sitios Mahayahay, Malaygang and Bulay in Barangay San Juan were forced to leave their homes after NPA rebels under its Front 75 reportedly harassed their communities on Monday night.

He said the rebels allegedly threatened the residents and fired several shots, although not one of them was harmed.

“(They) decided to just leave their communities due to fears of more harassments from the rebels,” he said.

The mayor said that as of Wednesday morning, some 99 families or around 300 individuals have already evacuated to the barangay proper of San Juan and the neighboring villages.

Ahasueris Keen Pacheco, coordinator of the Malungon municipal disaster risk reduction and management council, said they already delivered some food packs and other relief items to the evacuees.

He said they are currently preparing for the delivery of more relief supplies to the area “as they expect the number of evacuees to increase in the coming days.”

“We have not even listed yet those who just arrived in the evacuation centers and according to reports, more evacuees will be arriving today,” Pacheco said.

Chief Insp. Lurobe Rojo, Malungon police chief, said the NPA rebels initially came to the area last June 13 and abducted two officials of Barangay San Juan.

He said Barangay San Juan councilors Tirso Manambay and Edgar Tamalon were on their way home to the barangay proper at around 7 p.m. when they were taken at gunpoint by the NPA rebels.

But the rebels released the two officials unharmed about three hours later following negotiations made by their relatives.

Capt. Rey Balibagoso, spokesperson of the Army’s 1002nd Brigade, said they received reports that the NPA rebels had planned to use the two victims as human shields in an ongoing military offensive operation in the area.

He identified the leader of the group responsible for the abduction as a certain Manuel Garduque alias Dodong Sidlak, leader of Platoon Uno of the NPA Guerrilla Front 75, which operates in the hinterlands of Sarangani and Davao Occidental provinces. (MindaNews)