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Displaced residents still unable to return to homes

BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson in a briefing with Army Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer Merle Garcia and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Ernell Tumimbang, on the peace and order situation and status of evacuees in Himamaylan City.* GPB photo

There is no green light yet from the Philippine Army for more than 18,000 displaced residents to return to their respective communities, as the pursuit operations against fleeing New People’s Army rebels by state security forces entered its 7th day.

Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, however, said he has already tasked his ground commanders to identify what sitios have already been cleared, to pave the way for some residents to return to their residences.

Pasaporte said they will also facilitate and help provide transportation to affected residents once their communities are declared cleared.

He admitted that there are still remnants of the fleeing rebels monitored to be hiding in some hinterland areas of Brgy. Carabalan, Himamaylan City.

Soldiers of the 94th Infantry Battalion figured in five encounters with NPA rebels from October 6 to 11, resulting in the deaths of Negros top rebel leader Romeo Nanta, Army Corporals Rex Verde and Christian Drilon, as well as six other soldiers sustaining injuries.

The number of displaced Himamaylan City residents has risen to 3,795 families, composed of 18,236 individuals, disclosed by Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer Merle Garcia.

Almost all displaced residents came from barangays of Carabalan and Cabadiangan, and some are residents of Brgy. 3 poblacion, all in Himamaylan City.

The affected residents are now temporarily staying in 18 evacuation centers of Himamaylan City, being taken care of by the Himamaylan City government, supported by the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office and the DSWD regional office.

A team of doctors and nurses from the Provincial Health Office was also dispatched to the evacuation centers, as ordered by Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, to check the medical conditions of evacuees and also to check sources of water for possible water borne diseases.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Ernell Tumimbang reported that they have not monitored any cases of diarrhea, only fever being experienced by two children, that can be addressed by local health officers who have set up clinic along the regional evacuation centers.

Asked if it has something to do with COVID-19, Tumimbang said the two minors were placed under isolation for monitoring purposes.

As to the possible effects of the series of encounters to the image and economy of Negros Occidental, Lacson said it has no effect to the economy, as he expects the situation to subside soon.

With regard to what Gen. Pasaporte told him, Lacson said “we can expect a greenlight in certain areas, for evacuees to go back. That tells you that government is in control of the situation.”*

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