Evac­uees in Es­calante clash climbs to 700

Sun Star Bacolod - - Top Stories -

The num­ber of evac­uees fol­low­ing the deadly clash be­tween gov­ern­ment forces and the New Peo­ple’s Army (NPA) in Es­calante City has climbed to at least 700 peo­ple.

In­for­ma­tion pro­vided by 79th In­fantry Bat­tal­ion (79IB) com­man­der, Lt. Colonel Emelito Thad­deus Lo­gan, said they counted at least 109 fam­i­lies or 329 in­di­vid­u­als were evac­u­ated to the Pai­tan El­e­men­tary School in the city’s Barangay Pai­tan.

An ad­di­tional 91 fam­i­lies or 371 in­di­vid­u­als, mean­while, fled to the Lib­er­tad El­e­men­tary School in the neigh­bor­ing Barangay Lib­er­tad. Lo­gan said the evac­uees were mostly res­i­dents of Si­tios Tabunok and Mina-oco in the said barangay.

The 79IB com­man­der, said they, the lo­cal gov­ern­ment of Es­calante City, and the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment of Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal pro­vided re­lief goods and free med­i­cal con­sul­ta­tion to the evac­uees.

The dis­placed in­di­vid­u­als were also given free stress de­brief­ing, as well as were en­cour­aged to end their sup­port to the NPA rebels.

Lo­gan added the dis­placed fam­i­lies will re­main in the evac­u­a­tion cen­ters un­til the area is de­clared safe and cleared of any in­sur­gents.

Es­calante City Mayor Mele­cio Yap, Jr., mean­while, de­clared a sus­pen­sion of classes in the af­fected ar­eas un­til gov­ern­ment forces have fin­ished their clearing op­er­a­tions.

Ear­lier on Satur­day, at least 5 NPA in­sur­gents were killed fol­low­ing a gun bat­tle with el­e­ments of the Philip­pine Army 79th In­fantry Bat­tal­ion (79IB) in Es­calante City’s Si­tio Morino, lo­cated in the city’s Barangay Pai­tan.

Dur­ing the ex­change, rebel forces al­legedly ex­ploded sev­eral anti-per­son­nel mines be­fore with­draw­ing to nearby Si­tio Sampinit in the same barangay.

Three sol­diers, iden­ti­fied as Cor­po­rals Homer Aniver­sario, Ron­ald Tuhao, and Jer­ald Caluyo, were slightly wounded and were im­me­di­ately rushed to the hos­pi­tal for treat­ment.

Gov­ern­ment forces also seized an anti-per­son­nel mine, sub­ver­sive doc­u­ments and lec­ture ma­te­ri­als, a ham­mock, an NPA cap, and the rebels’ per­sonal be­long­ings.

No civil­ians were hurt in the gun bat­tle and the army has since sent in more re­in­force­ments to the area to chase down the flee­ing rebels.

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