BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The Philippine Army advised the 36 families, who evacuated from Sitio Batong Buang, Brgy. Trinidad, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, following a series of encounters between government forces and New People’s Army rebels on Jan. 16, that it is now safe to return to their homes.
Col. Michael Samson, 303rd Infantry Brigade acting commander, said yesterday that the Guihulngan City Task Force ELCAC, or Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict, is helping affected families return to their communities, after giving them food assistance.
A series of encounters ensued in two remote barangays of Guihulngan City between groups of heavily armed NPA rebels and 62nd Infantry Battalion soldiers, that triggered the evacuation of some residents in fear of their safety.
Capt. Raymond Jamisal, 62IB Civil Military Operations officer, said yesterday that the local government of Guihulngan will also extend assistance to the affected families, composed of 188 persons, who evacuated to neighboring Sitio Punong in the barangay.
Guihulngan City Mayor Carlos George Joan Reyes assured the affected residents not to worry, as the Philippine Army and National Police are in control of the situation, and assisted by the city government.
Reyes also sought their cooperation in reporting the presence of armed men in their communities.
He added that affected families have already been given relief goods and food packs from the TF ELCAC.
Reyes also joined the Philippine Army in calling for the surrender of remaining NPA rebels hiding in the mountains of Guihulngan, who are now hungry and tired of running away from government forces.
Recently, 28 former rebels in Guihulngan City availed of financial assistance from TF ELCAC, Lt. Col. Melvin Flores, 62nd Infantry Battalion commander, said.*