4 Agusan Sur evacuees die while fleeing attack

Ben Serrano (The Philippine Star) - February 9, 2015 - 12:00am

AGUSAN DEL SUR, Philippines – Four evacuees were reported to have died of illness as they were fleeing from armed men who stormed their village in San Luis town last Thursday, authorities said yesterday.

The evacuees were heading toward an evacuation center in Esperanza town.

Jamson Tilocan, 4; Miguel Man-anito, 6, and Mike Tagabangan, 7, died of measles, according to Ricky Hogsalan, chief of Banwa-on tribe based in the village.

The boys had been walking for almost two days toward Barangay Balit in Esperanza town when they fell ill. The other fatality was a pregnant woman.

He said it takes a day of travel on a motorcycle to reach Barangay Balit. By foot, it will take three days to reach the village, where evacuation centers such as the Balit Elementary School and an abandoned hospital are situated.

Members of Banwa-on tribe are used to walking since it is expensive to hire a motorcycle, the only means of transportation in the area.

The towns of San Luis and Bunawan are rich in minerals and natural resources but the villagers depend on farming, rattan pole gathering and fishing for living. 

Datu Mauro Mansilyohan, village chief, said tribe members from Binikialan, Mahagsay and San Pedro villages have been fleeing their homes, bringing along their pets, since Jan. 23.

Mansilyohan said armed men harassed villagers and their leaders into signing documents allowing mining operations in their ancestral domain.

BALIT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL BARANGAY BALIT DATU MAURO MANSILYOHAN ESPERANZA JAMSON TILOCAN MAHAGSAY AND SAN PEDRO MEMBERS OF BANWA MIGUEL MAN MIKE TAGABANGAN RICKY HOGSALAN SAN LUIS
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