Military seeking to protect Tarragona village from NPA

The military strengthened the barangay institution of Tomoaong, Tarragona, Davao Oriental the following report that it has been converted into a New People’s Army (NPA) expansion area.

In a report from 10th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office, a barangay assembly was spearheaded by Barangay Captain Bernardo Awit and the local government unit of Tarragona, led by Mayor Nestor Uy.

In an interview, Lt. Col Miguel Ramon, the battalion commander of the 28th IB, said the barangay used to be a peaceful community until it was forcibly co-opted by the Communist guerrillas.

He said the NPA is a constant presence in the barangay after the encounter in Sitio Langgawisan, Barangay Ompao.

“They had an unfortunate experience there because one resident was killed by the NPA to sow fear and consolidate their hold on the barangay,” Ramon said.

The barangay captain ordered an evacuation following a series of military offensives against the NPA. “They were afraid of getting caught in the crossfire,” he said. “But we advised him (Awit) that there’s no cause for panic or fear and (he should) ask the people to go back to their homes.”

Ramon said that after driving away the NPA, they conducted a barangay peace assembly to tackle options on how to protect the community from further NPA harassment.

“We are helping to strengthen the barangay institutions,” he added.

Tarragona was placed under the protection of the 67th IB, led by Lt. Col Jacob Thaddeus Obligado, effective Aug. 1, 2018.

It can be recalled that the NPA has conducted a hasty checkpoint in Sitio Tagsagawong, Barangay Tomoaong last July 26, which resulted in the wounding of PO2 Johnny Morales when rebels opened fired at the vehicle they were riding.

After the incident, members of the NPA fled through Tomoaong, triggering a mass evacuation as residents sought shelter in the barangay gymnasium.

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