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Capitol legal officer Cerillo “Neil” Pacana scolds evacuees from Sitio Mikamansi, Barangay Banglay, Lagonglong town, Misamis Oriental, after seeing that they have built structures at the capitol grounds. The evacuees have been staying at the park in front of the capitol for about a year after fleeing their village because of tension caused by the presence of soldiers and communist rebels in the area. A tribal chieftain, Reynaldo Ayuma, explained that the makeshifts are meant to keep the evacuees dry because it has been raining. Inset, poor children in a makeshift shelter. (photos by Shiela Mae Butlig)

Evacs start building shelters at capitol

By JIGGER J. JERUSALEM and SHIELA MAE BUTLIG
Correspondents .

Tribal leader Reynaldo Ayuman helps in building makeshift shelters for displaced people at the capitol grounds despite threats of demolition. (photo by Jigger J. Jerusalem)

TENSION gripped the capitol yesterday as an official berated a group of internally displaced people who started building shelters at the De Lara Park.

The official, capitol legal officer Cerillo Pacana, scolded the displaced villagers of Sitio Mikamansi, Barangay Banglay, Lagonglong town, Misamis Oriental, and threatened that the structures they built would be demolished.

The displaced villagers however threatened to put up resistance.

“We will resist if they will demolish what we have built,” said Jonreboy Hilogon who who has been helping in the building of the makeshift shelters at the capitol grounds.

A fuming Pacana confronted the displaced villagers and told one of them at the top of his voice, “Puro lang ka palusot, puro pag kapa-kapa, mga tonto!”

Pacana said the displaced villagers cannot legally build structures in a public area like the park. “Mao ganing tent ra ang ipagamit sa mga bakwit kay para it’s easy to remove. Mga structures naman na.”

Hilogon and his group have encamped at the capitol grounds since June 3 last year after fleeing their village for fear of being caught in armed confrontations between soldiers and communist rebels.

Datu Reynaldo Ayuma, tribal leader of the families staying at the De Lara Park, said they have no choice but to build huts because of the heavy rains.

As of yesterday morning, the group already erected at least eight huts and the displaced villagers said they plan to erect 31 more.

“Gipulihan na namo among balay kay tungod sa isa katuig nami dinhi, gakaulanan nami, aron sad maayo among pagkatulog,” explained Ayuma.

Pacana told the Ayuma: “Tarong kay atong sabot… Tarong kay atong sabot, nong, ingon mo maghimo lang mog salog kay nangabuslot na inyong katre karon inyo ming hingalan in anaon ninyo… Susmaryosep, unsa man mag-gubot-gubot na lang ta ani kung ingon ana inyong style?”

Ayuman said they have no plans of returning to their homes because the military has positioned there.

Hilogon, who has been helping in the building the makeshift shelters, said they have to make elevated huts for their comfort.

The shelters are made of bamboo poles, coconut lumber, and canvass which, Hilogon said, were given to them by Accord, a nongovernment organization. No one from Accord has confirmed this at presstime.

Pacana said the capitol has no choice but demolish the shelters, pointing out that these were built without the provincial government’s consent, and these were not what the parties have agreed on.

“That is already a structure,” Pacana told reporters when he inspected the area.

Pacana said the agreement was that the displaced villagers would be allowed to fix the canvass roofing and the flooring of their tents but not to build structures.

He said Accord has coordinated with the provincial government in building temporary shelters for the evacuees, but was told they must build these in Lagonglong instead and not at the capitol park.

Pacana said the municipal government of Lagonglong has promised the IDPs of temporary shelters while capitol would provide them livelihood assistance.

Hilogon, for his part, said they would only talk with Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano, but if the provincial government moved to demolish the shelters, they would fight back.

“Basta kay barugan namo among katungod, timan-i lang naay katungod ang matag tao,” Hilogon told Pacana.

The Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) asked the capitol to let the IDPs build the temporary shelters.

“With the upcoming rainy season, we ask that the provincial government allow the evacuees and their supporters to build structures to protect themselves from the elements. It is in these times that the officials of the province prove that they value the Lumad’s well-being than rules and protocols,” said Fr. Rolando Abejo, MAT-Northern Mindanao spokesperson.

Earlier, the capitol said it cannot facilitate the return of the evacuees to their village. It said the decision to pull out the troops from Mikamansi is the call of the military considering that Mindanao is still under martial law.

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