Evaucations, again, in North Cotabato- Maguindanao towns
Instead of the usual traffic, the entire 35-kilometer dirt road between this town and the adjoining municipality of Datu Piang in Maguindanao was still a “ghost highway” as of Sunday. Only the occasional brave drivers dared take the route as hundreds of families fled to escape the growing tension between the Philippine military and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Why the evaucations?
The MILF had withdrawn its forces across the Pulangi or Rio Grande River, according to Bantay Ceasefire, which monitors the ongoing crisis in Midsayap.
But the Army deployed tanks, constructed defensive camps in the villages where the MILF left, the Bantay Ceasefire said.
In some areas, the Army and the MILF are only separated by the Pulangi or Rio Grande River, the group said.
Romy Elusfa of the Institute for International Dialogues said that far from assuring the residents, the soldiers’ move to occupy the areas left by the MILF only triggered apprehension.
Aid workers said more than a thousand families from eight barangays in Midsayap fled their homes as the Philippine military moved in tanks and more troops last week.
Rexall Kaalim, Bantay Ceasefire coordinator, said the soldiers moved into the villages of Salunayan, Tumbra, Kapinpilan, Tugal, Nabalawag, Ulandang located along the road between Midsayap and Datu Piang. He said two villages of Midsayap — Mudseng and Damatulan — had become “ghost villages” contrary to reports that most of the villagers who fled in January had returned home.
Soldiers were also deployed in the villages of Kudaranggan, Kadigasan and Damatulan along the banks of Pulangi or Rio Grande River, he said. Read full story here.