The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in the region yesterday challenged UCCP-Haran to open its gates so the indigenous families still holed up there can avail of the government services.
Alex Roldan, DILG XI regional director, told reporters yesterday during the AFP-PNP press briefing held at The Royal Mandaya Hotel, that the Regional Peace and Order Council and the Regional Development Council have a basis to call out the organizers of the Haran.
He said they still do not understand why there is an evacuation center inside the compound, and why it could not be accessed by the government.
“If we have true evacuees, it is the responsibility of the state to take care of the evacuees. Why do they don’t want them (agencies) to enter? So, something is wrong with their process,” Roldan said.
He said there are also reports about the Lumads wanting to go home but they were prohibited from doing so by the organizers.
“It is really impossible to know what happened inside. If the persons inside are on their own free will or forced to enter for other purposes, and they don’t even understand why they are there,” he said.
Roldan said that if there is no pressure from the organizers, why shouldn’t Haran simply open its gates so the Lumads can go in and out anytime they want.
The Regional Peace and Coordinating Council requested to close down Haran if the government could enter the premises.
“Because whatever happens inside will still be the government’s responsibility,” he further said. “If their intention is good, then let the premises open and let the people inside decide if they want to go or not.”
Angel Sumagaysay, the chief of the Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC), echoed the sentiments of the DILG. He said that if the organizers consider the families inside as evacuees, then they should get assistance from the government.
Capt Robert Escalona, the officer-in-charge of the Public Affairs Office of the 10th Infantry Division, said the Lumads inside Haran are being used by the communist rebels to generate support. He said the basis of the RPOC were the statements of the former occupants of Haran who escaped the compound.
“Now, the challenge is if the administrators of Haran are sincere in helping the IPs, why not they open the Haran so that the IPs or evacuees can freely go in and out?” he said.
“If they are sincere with the IPs, why not bring the help to the IP communities where the IPs can freely exercise there culture and tradition? And why don’t they want the line government agencies to be involved, especially in education?” he added.
The UCCP-Haran Center along Fr. Selga Street has been the home of Lumads who were allegedly displaced by military operations in the hinterlands of Davao del Norte.
The RPOC claimed that the security sector recorded violations of IP’s rights, child abuse, and child trafficking. The council, headed Davao de Oro Gov. Nelson Dayanghirang, is composed of top-ranking military and local government officials, particularly governors and mayors, in the Davao region.
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