By Edwin Fernandez

DISPLACED. Some of the displaced indigenous peoples in Talayan, Maguindanao, who fled their homes due to harassment by gunmen over the weekend patiently waited for their turn to receive relief aid from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao on Monday (July 31, 2023). The IPs are seeking the deployment of soldiers in their village to protect them from lawless armed groups. (Photo courtesy of BARMM READi)

COTABATO CITY – At least 100 indigenous people (IP) families displaced by an armed attack in a remote village in Talayan, Maguindanao del Sur, were given emergency assistance by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), an official said Tuesday.

BARMM Interior Minister Naguib Sinarimbo said the Bangsamoro Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence (READi) relief teams were immediately sent to Barangay Marader, Talayan, on Monday to attend to the displaced families.

“The food assistance includes rice and canned goods,” Sinarimbo said in a statement, adding that the adjacent town of South Up, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, and the local police also joined the relief mission.

The Talayan local government unit also provided non-food essentials like drinking water, mats, and mosquito nets to the displaced IPs to protect them from dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

Maj. Zukarnain Kunakon, Talayan town police chief, said the initial investigation showed that a member of the Teduray Lambangian tribe was slightly injured when unidentified gunmen attacked the village on Sunday afternoon, firing at houses that forced villagers to flee.

The attackers also burned three houses and the tribal worship hall of the ethnic group.

“The gunmen told us to leave our village. I could not understand why they are forcing us to leave, this is our ancestral land, we will stay,” resident Juvelyn Anggong said in the vernacular.

“We are glad BARMM assistance came,” she said, adding that the village leaders are asking the military to put up a detachment in the village to protect the villagers.

Some of the displaced residents temporarily sought shelter in the houses of relatives and friends in Barangay Biarong, South Upi, and in Barangay Tamar, Talayan, both in Maguindanao del Sur, officials said. (PNA)