BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Residents displaced by the series of gun battles between government troopers and New People’s Army rebels in the hinterlands of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, have started to return to their respective communities, however not all are allowed yet.
Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, yesterday said that residents of sitios Sig-ang, Medel and Campayas, all in Brgy. Carabalan, Himamaylan City, have yet to be allowed to return home due to ongoing clearing operations of the Philippine Army.
The six gun battles that ensued in the three hinterland sitios of barangay Carabalan claimed the lives of NPA regional commander Romeo Nanta and two Army soldiers, as well as resulted in injuries to six other soldiers.
Two other encounters also ensued in the hinterlands of Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental. PLt. Col. Renante Jomocan, Himamaylan police chief, told Aksyon Radyo that 234 families, composed of 966 individuals who are residents of Sitios Tingkop, Cunalum, Tugas, Floreto, Daat, Kabagbaan, and Ulalia have already returned to their respective residences, effective yesterday.
The displaced residents temporarily sought refuge at the Carabalan Elementary School and the barangay covered court. In his issued advisory, Mayor Raymund Tongson the decision to allow evacuees staying at Don Florencio Villafranca National High School and Manuel Yulo Elementary School to return to their homes was made after a dialogue between local officials, Incident Management Team of Himamaylan and the Philippine Army.
Tongson earlier clarified that only about 3,500 residents were displaced by the encounters, and that the 18,000 figure given by the Department of Social Welfare and Development are affected residents.
Pasaporte said they monitored attempts of New People’s Army rebels to return to the three hinterland sitios of Sig-ang, Medel and Campayas, all in Brgy. Carabalan, Himamaylan City, for still unknown reasons.
On the other hand, Tongson ordered the resumption of classes in Brgys. Carabalan and Cabadiangan, all in Himamaylan City, effective October 19.*