Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Soldier slain, 80 families displaced in Cotabato clash

From GMA News (Sep 4): Soldier slain, 80 families displaced in Cotabato clash

A soldier was killed in a clash with members of the New People's Army in far-flung Barangay Cabilao on Tuesday noon.

1st Lt. Nasrullah Sema, chief civil military operations of the 57th Infantry Battalion, identified the fatality as Sgt. Arnold Vigo of the Bravo Company, 57th IB.

Sema, in an interview over dxND, said Vigo and his troops were on patrol operations after the New NPA guerrillas torched the rubber processing plant of the Standard Rubber Development Corporation (Standeco) in nearby Barangay Talun-talunan, when the clash erupted.

He said the firefight lasted for hours, seriously wounding Vigo who died hours later while being treated at a hospital in Kidapawan City.

“Before the firefight, a landmine planted along the road leading to Cabilao went off... but it did not deter security forces from their pursuit operations,” Sema said.

Also, he said the soldiers believe the rebels they encountered in Cabilao on Tuesday noon were the same group that torched last Sunday night Standeco’s processing plant, office, and warehouse.

Damage the attack caused on the plant was estimated at P30 million, he added.

An initial investigation showed the rebels belong to the NPA Guerrilla Front 72 that operates within the tri-boundary of Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Davao del Sur provinces.

Some 700 Standeco workers, mostly contractual, lost their jobs after the attack on the rubber processing facility, said Makilala Mayor Rudy Caoagdan.

“I know it would take time before the establishment could recover from its big losses.  So, it’s a lot difficult for the affected workers to also recover after losing their jobs.  These workers are on a ‘no work, no pay’ status,” the mayor added.

Meanwhile, reports said 80 families from four sitios in Cabilao fled their homes at the height of the armed confrontation at about 4:30 p.m. last Tuesday.

Of the 80 families, at least 30 were temporarily housed at the barangay hall, while others have sought refuge in the homes of relatives and friends.

Kagawad Armando Laman of Barangay Cabilao, in a message sent to dxND, said the evacuees come from sitios Lamudon, Eden, Medang, and Badiangon, all hinterland sitios of Barangay Cabilao.

Laman said the fighting has caused so much trouble among farmers and rubber tappers in the village.

“Our farmers, who have depended so much on their farm for them to survive, were prevented from tilling their lands because the tension between the AFP and the NPA is still high,” said Laman.


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