Philippines

IDP Protection Assessment Report - Displacement in Lumba Bayabao, Lanao del Sur (AFP vs NPA) (IDPPAR No. 11, Issue No. 01, 2019)

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INCIDENT BACKGROUND

On July 26, 2019, the 55th Infantry Batallion (IB) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) launched military operations in the outskirts of the municipality of Lumba Bayabao, Lanao del Sur, which is believe to be where a group of New People's Army (NPA) were sighted. At around 2:00 in the morning the military launched a ground attack to suppress the presence of the said armed group. Series of artillery shellings were directed to the alleged location of the NPA. The artillery are pre-positioned in Barangay Ragayan in Poona Bayabao, firing towards the direction of Lumba Bayabao where the target, 7kms away, is said to be located. Around 20 families residing in the in the upper portions of barangay Ragayan were advised to come down to the lower part of the barangay for their safety, given that military forces are on the ground. In Lumba Bayabao, 162 families from barangays are Gambai, Gadongan and Lubo-Basara evacuated and sought safer grounds in Barangay Golingan, Cabasaran and Mapantao in Lumba Bayabao.

Allegedly, the military suffered one casualty in the firefight (to be validated).

CURRENT SITUATION

In Lumba Bayabao, most displaced families are reported to have returned to their places of origin, except for 5 families staying in Barangay Gambai who have not returned yet to Barangay Gadongan due to fear. The Mayor of Lumba Bayabao had circulated text messages announcing that the security alert has been lifted and the situation has returned to normal. Gun fires have stopped as of the reporting period.

In Poona Bayabao, the 20 families displaced from the upper areas of Brgy Ragayan are still staying with their relatives in the lower parts of the barangay.

The military is still conducting continuous ground patrol in the said areas of concern. It was reported also that Marine forces had replaced the 55th Infantry Battalion to continue the pursuit of the said NPA members.