Army defends hunt for rebs
TALAINGOD, Davao del Norte—Officials of this upland town appealed to members of a tribal group to return home as the military said there was no reason for the people to flee amid ongoing offensives against communist rebels.
At least 1,300 men, women and children from the Manobo tribe from two villages fled to Davao City on April 2, according to Mayor Basilio Libayao.
Libayao said reports about military abuses in his town were not true because the local government has not received any complaint against military excesses.
On Wednesday, military officials also cried foul over what they said were efforts to paint government soldiers as evil.
Col. Harold Cabreros, head of the Army’s 1,003rd Infantry Brigade, said the Army had not violated any rights in the course of its campaign against communist rebels.
The communities that had been deserted were not even near the sites of clashes between soldiers and rebels, he said.
Maj. Jacob Obligado, civil military operations officer of the 10th Infantry Division, said he did not believe that the operation against the rebels justified the evacuations.
“The question is, what really is causing the suffering here?” he said.
“It is the NPA (New People’s Army) in the first place,” he added. “The military is merely doing its duty,” he said. Frinston L. Lim, Inquirer Mindanao
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