NDF pays blast victims
DAVAO CITY—At least 50 residents of Barangay (village)Fatima in Paquibato district here got P5,000 in cash each in compensation from the National Democratic Front (NDF) over injuries they suffered from the September 1 grenade attack, which communist rebels owned up to.
A ranking military official in Southern Mindanao quickly criticized the NDF, adding that it was too low.
“The NPA is extorting a huge amount of cash and they can only give P5,000 to the victims?” said Maj. Jacob Obligado, civil-military operations officer of the 10th Infantry Division.
He said the compensation was “an insult to the intellect, pain and trauma of the residents.”
Barangay Fatima residents were in a carnival put up inside the village’s gym when a grenade exploded, wounding at least 48 persons, including children.
The NPA later owned up to the attack and said it was directed at a military detachment, some three meters from the gym.
The military had said the attack could not be justified and the perpetrators must be punished.
While saying the rebels involved in the attack had apologized to the civilian victims, the NDF was silent on what penalty was meted out on them.
During the payout, held at the village hall of Barangay Fatima yesterday, a team of third-party party facilitators that included journalists, lawyers and members of the religious community, handed the cash to each of the victims.
Psychosocial services were also provided to the blast victims.
Barangay Fatima chair Rommel Cuso said he was thankful to the NDF and the NPA for the compensation.
“I don’t harbor any grudges against the NPA. I don’t blame them and I was not coached to give these answers. If one day they would pass by our house and ask for water, I would gladly give them,” said 15-year-old Lemuel Puson, one of the victims.
Puson said he was not blaming soldiers either, whom he described as the village’s protectors against criminals and drunkards.
But he said the military should consider moving its detachment away from the village center to spare civilians from getting caught in the crossfire. Karlos Manlupig, Inquirer Mindanao