On 12 February 2017, an armed encounter between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and New People’s Army (NPA) occurred in the remote areas of Barangay Langtud, Laak municipality, Compostela Valley province. The firefight lasted for almost three hours. Around 1,532 families were affected in Barangays Bollucan, Langtud, Macopa and Poblacion. According to interviews with some IDPs, one house was destroyed during the incident and an undetermined number of other houses were partly damaged by explosions.
As of 15 February 2017, at least 135 families (approximately 550 individuals) are displaced and are staying in Laak National High School and Tuk-an Elementary School, both in Barangay Poblacion. Some of them return to their farms at daytime but sleep in the evacuation centers at night. Other displaced families are staying with relatives or friends, but there is no verified data on their number. Movement of the displaced families is highly unpredictable due to the mounting tension between the AFP and NPA, following the withdrawal of their respective ceasefire declarations and suspension of peace negotiations.
Despite security threats, displaced families attempt to return to their villages at daytime in order to save any undamaged properties, farm supplies, and animals. Fearing that the situation may not normalize soon and they would be forced to support themselves while staying in the evacuation centers, some families sold their farm animals at very low prices.
The IDPs, including those staying with relatives or friends, received assistance from the local government unit (LGU) to meet their immediate needs for food, water, kitchen utensils, and medical services. Stress debriefing was also provided to those affected and traumatized by the incident.
On 13 February 2017, the AFP declared some of the affected areas cleared, except those in the interior and remote sitios. There were also families who decided to go back to their farms despite safety risks. Tensions between the AFP and NPA persist following the declaration of an ‘all-out-war’ by the government. Curfews were enforced due to the on-going operations of the AFP against NPA.