Task force created for displaced Kitcharao tribal folk

(Photo courtesy of Jun Clerigo, DXKS)
The City Peace and Order Council (CPOC) created recently a multi-agency task force purposely to facilitate the peaceful transfer of the Mamanwa families temporarily settled in Brgy. Luna, Surigao City back to their original abode in Sitio Zapanta Valley, Brgy. Bangayan, Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte.

Just recently, around 37 Mamanwa families or 137 individuals fled their homes last May 31 due to armed clashes between the military and the New People's Army (NPA).

30th IB Commanding Officer LTC Erwin Rommel Lamzon reported during the meeting that the evacuees need not to worry anymore for his troops have already left the area. “It has already been a week that there was no presence of the gov’t troops in Sitio Zapanta, so they can now go back to their homes,” Lamzon said.

City Mayor Ernesto Matugas for his part, was also saddened with this recent event. “I was saddened because the people who facilitated these evacuees didn’t even bother to pay courtesy to the office of the city mayor. I was not really informed of their presence in Sitio Bacud; it was only when I received a complaint from the residents.”

It was learned that the evacuees settled in the lot owned by the Cortes family with Board Member Leonilo Aldonza as the lot administrator. "I was saddened because Hon. Aldonza and the barangay council failed to inform me," the mayor said.

Board Member Aldonza, in an interview, explained that he was in Cebu City for a medical check-up when the negotiation happened. "I actually told Luna Brgy. Captain Alfredo Dacuron to inform the city mayor and I was assured by the organizers that they will not be staying there for long," he said.

It was further learned that members of the Kahugpungan sa mga Lumadnong Organisasyon (KASALO) led the transfer to Surigao City. However, the city mayor does found no reason why they chose the city as their temporarily settlement.

“An ila lungsod, an Kitcharao proper peaceful man. Naglibog gajud ako ngano diri man sila sa Surigao City nubalhin. (Their town, the Kitcharao proper is peaceful. I am still puzzled why they chose to transfer in Surigao City),” said Matugas.

Mayor Matugas also said residents adjacent to the Cortes’ property vehemently objected the Mamanwa’s presence in the area, for “it will only create problem when it comes to peace and order as well as health and sanitation.”

A nine-member team was created led by Girlie Patagan of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to look into the incident, as there were reports that the residents of Sitio Bacud objected to the displacement. Other members Lt. Col. Lamzon; PC/Insp. Rudy Elandag, chief of Police of PNP-Surigao City; Manuel Kong of the Rotary Club of Central Surigao; Board Member Leonilo Aldonza, administrator of the property; Luna Brgy. Captain Alfredo Dacuron; City Councilor Jose Expeditus Bayana; Fryan Abkilan of Philippine Information Agency and a representative from the City Health Office as members.

It was learned that an initial dialogue was already conducted with the members of the task force and the evacuees headed by Datu Rolando Anlagan last Saturday, June 4.(SDR/FEA/PIA-Surigao del Norte)

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