Around 190 lumad families left their homes after New People’s Army (NPA) rebels clashed with troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Lanuza, Surigao del Sur.
The Police Region Office (PRO)-13 reported that the NPA rebels fired at the troops conducting community support program in the hinterland Barangay Mampi in Lanuza.
They said the rebels have been threatening the lumad families for not supporting the communist movement.
The frightened lumad families sought refuge at the gymnasium in Barangay Agsam and Lanuza policemen are providing security and basic services like food and clothing to the displaced indigenous people’s (IPs) community.
“We condemn these atrocities that have sowed fear in our IP communities. The rebels’ activities are truly anti-peace and development,” Chief Supt. Noli Romana, PRO-13 regional director, said.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier offered the lumads P20,000 bounty for every communist rebel they kill as a way to motivate the IPs to eliminate the rebels in their area.
On February 8, more than 100 lumad residents in Butuan sought refuge after a clash between the NPA rebels and the AFP troops that resulted in the death of one soldier.
More than 3,000 lumads have evacuated their area for various reasons such as clashes between government troops and the rebels and their lands being seized from them because they have no land titles or these are taken for military purposes.
Duterte previously told lumad leaders that he is seeking investors who will put up businesses in their ancestral lands and urged them to move away from their communities so that the military can use these for combat operations against the rebels.
This statement angered some lumad leaders who criticized Duterte for taking away their ancestral land that they had hoped will be given to them eventually.
The United Nation State of the World’s Indigenous People previously reported that the Philippines is one of the countries facilitating large-scale mining by foreign corporations which has resulted in many lumad being displaced from their ancestral lands.
On the other hand, the Duterte administration has offered aide to the displaced lumad who are now living in evacuation centers.