By MART D. SAMBALUD
TALAINGOD, Davao del Norte – Ata-Manobo children complained that they too were being questioned by the military in this mainly tribal town on the whereabouts of the New People’s Army guerrillas. The children and their families are driven to seek refuge in a religious center in Davao City.
A Grade 5 pupil of Nasilaban Elementary School told Davao Today at their makeshift house inside the Haran compound here, that he and his classmates were asked by government soldiers to tell them where the guerrillas were hiding.
The grade schooler said that the questionings were being done even among children and adult residents of Purok 23 Sitio Sambulongan.
He said he was “scared” of the military actions in their school and communities.
Another 17-year-old boy from Barangay Nalubas said soldiers took photographs of residents in his village but the soldiers would not tell them why.
“When we cover our face or show that we don’t like to be photographed, they would threaten us,” he said.
The presence of soldiers in their communities since the first week of March have also scared residents from going out to their farms. They were forced to do so to avoid being singled out or getting caught in any event of a gunbattle with guerrillas.
The child rights group, Children Rehabilitation Center, told Davao Today that the Grade 5 pupil and his classmates had already skipped school for several days before they moved to the compound maintained by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines along Madapo Hills in Davao City.
As of posting, the UCCP has recorded 1,350 Ata-Manobo residents in the compound, they are tribal families who came from the villages of Bagang, Nalubas, Basakan, Saso, Laslakan, Sambulongan, and Bayabas in Barangay Palma Gil as well as Sitio Pongpong in Barangay Dagohoy.
Capt. Ernest Carolina, Spokesperson of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, told a radio interview on Thursday that the Ata-Manobo residents had been forced out of their villages “because of the presence of armed men in the area”.
“So they went to another Sitio (Nasilaban) where they are currently located,” he said.
Carolina claimed that the residents were “tricked” into believing in the promises of the New People’s Army. Reposted by