COTABATO - Residents of Barangay Camutan in Antipas, Cotabato fled their homes early Thursday morning due to the presence of New People’s Army (NPA) in the area.
According to 39th Infantry Battalion spokesperson Lt. Silver Belvis, NPA rebels under Guerilla Front 53 led by a certain Alvin Glumatico alias Joel reportedly occupied the village and forcibly recruited villagers.
"Mayroong mga reports na allegedly 'yung mga tao is gusto nilang i-meeting gabi-gabi at mayroong force recruitment na nangyayari. Gusto nila na mayroong magsampa na NPA, dalawang NPA na magpa-miyembro daw kada linggo dito sa barangay. Yung mga sibilyan dito sa Barangay Camutan is ayaw 'yan. Parang na-offend yata 'yung ego ng commander na 'to, dinala niya 'yung mga tauhan niya, mga armado dito mismo sa barangay proper," said Belvis.
(There were reports that the NPA are meeting the residents every night, where they also conduct their force recruitment. They want to recruit two members per week. The residents refused. It did not sit well with the commander. He brought his armed men to the barangay.)
At around 10 a.m. on Thursday, around 30 families were prevented by the NPA from evacuating.
Based on the latest monitoring of the military, more than 200 families left their houses and are temporarily staying in evacuation centers in Barangay Poblacion, Antipas.
The crisis committee of Antipas, composed of the local government and law enforcement agencies, convened Thursday afternoon for the possible action following the presence of NPA members in the area.