By BEN SERRANO
BUTUAN City–Over 2,000 indigenes who evacuated to the Surigao del Sur Provincial Sports Complex returned to their homes in Han-ayan, Barangay Diatagon, Lianga in Surigao del Sur after a year.
The lumad families turned the public facility near the capitol in Tandag into an evacuation center. It was their home since Sept. 1, 2015.
The evacuations were triggered by the gruesome killings of lumad school executive director Emerito Samarca, tribal leaders Juvello Sinzo and Dionel Campos.
Last weekend, the evacuees decided to clear the sports center and go home following a program participated in by representatives of the Friends of the Lumad in Caraga, Bishop Modesto Villasanta, Fr. Fortunato Estillore of the Indigenous People’s Apostolate of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tandag, 402nd Infantry Brigade commander Col. Isidro Purisima and his men.
Purisima earlier ordered soldiers to leave the lumad communities in Km. 9 and Sitio Han-ayan, Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.
Lianga Mayor Roberto Pedroso, members of the town council, and village officials led by Liby Te accepted the turnover of the lumad villages from Col. Purisima.
A short program was held just outside the gate of the Han-ayan Primary School and the school compound of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev).
Jose Campos, representing residents of Kilometer 16 and Han-ayan, and members of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (Mapasu) reiterated their call for soldiers to completely dismantle their military camp and leave the village.
Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said that with the military pullout, he was optimistic that this would create a more positive atmosphere and result in improved confidence in time for peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF).