From the Mindanao Gold Star Daily (Oct 7): Rebels giving soldiers a hard time in eastern Misor
New People’s Army (NPA) rebels have been giving the military a hard time in the outlying villages in eastern Misamis Oriental, making some run for their lives and making it difficult for choppers to land and airlift wounded soldiers.
The small victories that the military has been claiming were all lies because the truth is, the NPA rebels know the terrain and have the upper hand, villagers told The Gold Star Daily over the weekend.
“Kadagan AFP, gilakag sa mga NPA. Daghan patay,” villagers said.
Clashes broke out again over the weekend. The skirmishes have been taking place since Sept. 30 when rebels attacked a military detachment in Lantad in Balingasag, erstwhile bailiwick and training ground of the NPA. The attack spilled over to Sitio Camansi, Barangay Banglay, Lagonglong, as military scout rangers pursued the guerrillas. Soldiers and rebels clashed in the morning and afternoon resulting in the killing of a soldier and wounding of six others.
Government and rebel forces clashed again in Oct. 1, forcing villagers from sitios Camansi and Ara-ay in Balingasag to evacuate to safer grounds.
By Oct. 3, some 44 families or 444 individuals, including women and children, have sought refuge at the Lagonglong Gymnasium, according to Senior Insp. Alinor Mautante, Lagonglong’s police chief.
That day, soldiers and rebels clashed again at least twice in sitios Pugaan and Kapatagan in Barangay Umagos where a soldier was wounded at around 9 am. Another soldier identified only as Cpl. Tinalola was hurt in an encounter at around 11:45 am the same day.
A military chopper came under under heavy fire when its pilot tried to land it to airlift the wounded. The chopper was able to land late in the afternoon and flew the wounded out.
Prisco Acenas, known as Datu Mahusay, said the fresh skirmishes were a result of government neglect.
Acenas, chairperson of the Talugan Balatukan Tribe, said, “Gihikaw kanamo ang mga batakang serbisyo. Kanang ingon nila nga farm-to-market roads, wala kana namo nakita o napahimuslan. Hinaot unta nga madunggan na kami sa mga nangagamhanan sa gobyerno kay lisod kayo ang panahon. Hinaot unta nga mahuman na kining kagubot pinaagi sa panag sinabtanay kay apektado kaayo ang mag nagkalainlaing tribo, labina gayud ang mga bata ug mga kababain-an.”
Villagers also said the NPA attack on the military detachment in Sept. 30 was triggered by abuses.
The military has denied that many soldiers were killed in the clashes. As of Friday, the military counted two soldiers killed in action and eight others wounded in Balingasag and Lagonglong, said 4th Infantry Division commander Gen. Ricardo Visaya.
But National Democratic Front spokesperson for Mindanao Jorge Madlos said at least 16 soldiers were killed since September in separate clashes in Balingasag, Lagonglong and in a Bukidnon town.,
“That’s a big lie,” said Visaya.
CampEvangelista spokesperson Capt. Christian Uy said soldiers and rebels clashed again on Thursday in Umagos, Lagonglong. No soldier was hurt in that clash, he claimed.
Visaya said the fierce clashes have been taking place almost daily.
“We don’t want to kill fellow Filipinos but we have to secure Misamis Oriental and stop this armed group that has been into extortion. They are incoveniencing and making innocent people suffer,” Visaya said.
Sources said the rebels have been demanding P30 a month from every household in the hinterland barangays.
Visaya, meanwhile, denied that a military chopper was unable to land because of the NPA. He said the pilot had to make an emergency landing at a public school grounds due to mechanical problems.