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PIA Press Release

Villagers trapped by NPA atrocities

Camp Apolinario, Panacan, Davao City (22 October) -- Josephine Adao is a 38-year-old pregnant woman trapped in a community influenced by rebels and might be the next target of the NPA in Mahan-ub in Baganga town in Davao Oriental.

A few months ago, local terrorists in Baganga encamped in her house to pass the night and extort foodstuff from the community as they usually do every time they pass by. A few kilometres away, soldiers were on a trail leading to Josephine's house due to a tip-off from a citizen in the area about the presence of armed men in their place.

A firefight ensued which left two NPAs dead including a certain Danny Japitan whom the terrorists left. Troops recovered the cadaver and brought it to his relatives to the gratitude of his parents.

People in the place sought the help of the military to establish a detachment in their place due to fear of the terrorists' retaliation as they will be surely charged of giving information to the soldiers which resulted to the encounter. A community based defense scheme was established by the people with the help of soldiers in light of the imminent threat posed by the NPA.

True enough the people are being threatened as narrated personally by Josephine as she voluntarily went to the headquarters of the 67th Infantry Battalion were she confided with Captain Esnani Mai, the civil military operations officer of that unit.

According to Josephine, last September 18, 2009, she was approached by a group who introduced themselves as members of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and brought her to Davao City then gave her 10 pieces of clothes. She later learned that the group were members of a Partylist group and that they are investigating alleged human rights violations of the military particularly in Baganga.

Josephine cannot understand why she was the focal point of the investigation until one of the individuals asked her if she betrayed them. It was now clear to Josephine's mind that she is being tagged as the one who tipped the military during that clash in their place. Josephine answered in Cebuano saying, "I betrayed no one. I am a friend of the military if the soldiers are present and I am also a friend of the NPAs if they are in my house." Such was her predicament.

A day after, September 19, 2009, Josephine was permitted by that group to go back to Baganga. She went directly to the soldiers' camp and narrated the incident to Captain Mai.

Josephine is just but one of the people in Baganga and other places being coerced, intimidated, forced and manipulated by local terrorists to serve their malevolent ends. Josephine, as any other citizens in Baganga are tired of the NPAs cruelty and deception.

The establishment of defense mechanism in the community aims to protect our people from the fangs of armed groups proliferating in the countryside posing as protector of the masses but in truth are wolves hiding in sheep's skin and systematically deceiving the people particularly the urban poor, rural folks and the youth who they see as lifeblood of their large scale extortion syndicate guised in a revolutionary peoples' struggle. The village defense conceptualized by the people of Baganga in coordination with soldiers and the local government is a scheme where membership is voluntary and embraces the principle of "Bayanihan" to help each other in any way possible. (10th ID) [top]

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