Military Offensive in Cotabato Philippines

Some 275 families in a Lumad village in Tulunan town have left their homes since Wednesday when the Army in North Cotabato intensified its military offensives against suspected New Peoples’ Army (NPA) members believed to be behind last month’s raid that killed a militiaman and injured four others, including an Army sergeant.

Tulunan Mayor Lani Candolada said the evacuees, mostly B’laan natives, are temporarily housed in public schools at the center of Barangay Bacung. The displaced families are residents of Sitio Maclang Gulol, a hinterland in Barangay Bacung suspected as one of the lairs of the NPA rebels.

Also, Candolada has ordered a thorough probe on the alleged abduction on November 3 of four residents of Bacung village, two of them believed to be teenage NPA combatants.

As of this writing, the four identified as Alex Moca, 18, and his brother Richard, 15; Reyno Odi and Albert Imba are still missing.

“They were abducted on the night of November 3 by masked men,” said Celia Obit, councilor of Barangay Bacung.

Obit claimed the victims were taken by members of the 57th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army whose headquarters is located in Makilala, a town adjacent to Tulunan.

The villagers had already sought the help of a human rights group based in Davao City.

Kelly Delgado, secretary-general of Karapatan-Southern Mindanao, a Davao City-based human rights group, said they already alerted the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Region 11 and other international human rights group about the case of the missing persons in Bacung village.

“What the Army did to residents of Bacung village was a brazen disregard of human rights. We’ll make them accountable for that,” said Delgado in a radio interview over DXND. – PNA

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