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Himamaylan put under state of calamity

BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

An Army soldier helps the transport of displaced residents to evacuation centers in Himamaylan City.* CSWDO photo

Himamaylan City in Negros Occidental is now under a state of calamity, as armed skirmishes between Army soldiers and suspected New People’s Army rebels erupted anew, and the number of displaced residents in evacuation centers rose to 15,000 as of yesterday.

Vice Mayor Justin Silos Gatuslao, in his social media account, said that the declaration by the City Council placing Himamaylan City under a state of calamity, as recommended by Mayor Raymund Tongson and the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, may now allow the LGU to utilize its Quick Response Fund.

It also enables the release of national calamity funds to agencies involved in relief operations, Gatuslao added.

5TH ENCOUNTER

Another armed skirmish erupted anew in Sitio Medel, Brgy. Carabalan, Himamaylan City, claiming the life yesterday of a suspected member of the New People’s Army, Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, disclosed last night.

That was the fifth encounter between Army soldiers and the communist terrorist group since October 6, resulting in the deaths of two 94th Infantry Battalion soldiers and injuries to six others.

Pasaporte said that the body of slain rebel was left behind by his fleeing comrades at the encounter site, where Army soldiers recovered a .45 caliber pistol.

CLEARING OPERATIONS

The Philippine Army continues to prohibit residents from returning to their respective homes in the hinterlands of Brgy. Carabalan, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental.

We will communicate with LGU (Local Government Unit) of Himamaylan once those sitios already cleared, Pasaporte said.

The number displaced residents in evacuation centers, as a result of the ongoing military operations against the communist terrorist group in the hinterlands of Brgy. Carabalan, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, has risen to 3,543 families, which is composed of 15,024 individuals.

Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson disclosed on Oct. 10 that there is no clearance yet from the Philippine Army for evacuees to return to their respective homes.

“I am hoping we can do that as soon as possible, because the longer they stay in evacuation centers, the harder becomes the government to take care of them,” Lacson said, adding that the farm animals and personal belongings left behind have to be taken care of.

Lacson said the 3,543 families are now being clustered in seven evacuation centers, where their basic needs are being attended to by the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, as well as DSWD regional office of Western Visayas.

MEDALS

On the other hand, Pasaporte also disclosed that the two slain Army soldiers, Corporals Christian Drilon and Rex Verde, will be conferred with Gold Cross Medals (posthumous).

Wounded Personnel Medals were also awarded by Defense Department officer in charge Jose Faustino Jr. to six injured 94IB soldiers at a private hospital in Bacolod City.

Maj. Gen Benedict Arevalo, 3rd Infantry Division commander, also lauded the heroism of wounded soldiers who risked their lives in pursuit of just and lasting peace in Negros.

“These medals will remind us of the bravery and heroic deeds you have displayed for the people of Negros Island to continue living in peace.”

“Your gallantry will also motivate us to continue our quest in ending the local communist armed conflict to fulfil the Negrenses’ fervent desire for a CPP-NPA-free community,” Arevalo said.*

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