‘Bakwit’ | Lumad communities of Surigao Sur forced to leave home again

(Contributed photo)
(Contributed photo)

Soldiers’ presence and bomber planes flying at midnight over the communities of Lianga town drove some 2,000 villagers packing before dawn today.

By BULATLAT

MANILA – Some 2,000 Lumad residents of a village in Surigao del Sur province evacuated from their homes early today, July 6, for fear of renewed attacks following military operations in their communities which started four days ago. Bomber planes also reportedly flew around communities more than a dozen times at midnight, July 5.

According to a fact sheet sent by Karapatan-Caraga to Bulatlat, at least 424 families with 2,047 individuals evacuated from the nine communities of Han-ayan, Mike, Kilometer 16, Km. 14, Manluy-a, Kabuloan, Panukmoan, Km. 15, and Decoy. These are member-communities of the progressive Lumad group Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang sa Sumusunod or MAPASU (Persevering Struggle for the Next Generation).

The same communities hurriedly evacuated on September 1, 2015, after paramilitary men brutally killed the head of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural Development (Alcadev) and two Lumad leaders, including Mapasu chairperson Dionel Campos.

The Lumad returned home Sept. 3, 2016, after a year in evacuation at the provincial capital, Tandag City. It has been barely a year since they have begun rebuilding their homes, farms and schools.

Among the evacuees were 633 students of alternative elementrary schools run by Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) and a total of 43 teachers.

The evacuees are staying at the Simowao Tribal Community School, some nine kilometers from the national highway and Diatagon village center.

Residents and students of the Lumad schools in Han-ayan community in Diatagon village, Lianga, Surigao del Sur get ready to evacuate on July 5. (Contributed photo)
Residents and students of the Lumad schools in Han-ayan community in Diatagon village, Lianga, Surigao del Sur get ready to evacuate on July 5. (Contributed photo)

Karapatan-Caraga said the villagers reported seeing soldiers amassing in different areas around Andap Valley.

On July 2, at around 2 AM, residents reported seeing some 60 soldiers in full combat uniform, gathered at the Philippine Army’s 75th infantry battalion camp in Post 1, St. Christine village, Lianga. “They were later seen going towards the mountain communities,” said the Karapatan fact sheet.

On July 3, the soldiers arrived in the mountain villages in the municipalities of Lianga, San Miguel and San Agustin. At around 6 am, the same number of soldiers were seen in Km. 6, St. Christine village.

That same day, soldiers believed to be elements of the 36th IBPA and 16th SFB Special Forces Battalion arrived in the Lumad community of Hayon and Sangay, Libas Sud village, in San Miguel town.

On July 4, soldiers residents of the communities of Tambonon and Bishop in Bolhoon village, also in San Miguel.

“These communities are located on the other side of the mountain, adjacent to the Lumad communities of Lianga,” said Karapatan-Caraga.

As early as July 4, residents of the Lumad communities Emerald and Panukmoan, both in Diatagon village, evacuated to the community centers after they saw “soldiers in combat jungle uniform” in their farms. Residents of the three communities of Mike, Km. 16 and Km. 14 evacuated to Han-ayan and stayed in the Lumad schools of Trifpss and Alcadev, said the human rights group.

Evacuees make their way to the Simuwao community even before light on July 6,  2017 (Contributed photo)
Evacuees make their way to the Simuwao community even before light on July 6,
2017 (Contributed photo)

“On July 5 to 6, 2017, at around 11 o’clock to midnight, while the communities slept, bomber planes flew over the Lumad communities, circling about 15 times. Residents of Lumad communities Han-yan, Mike, Km. 14, Km. 15, Km. 16, Manluy-a, Kabuluhan, Panukmoan and Decoy, all of Diatagon village, Lianga, fearing for their lives, evacuated to and arrived in Emerald at around 6 o’clock in the morning,�� said the report by Karapatan-Caraga.
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