Thousands displaced amid Army-NPA clash

By Dolly Yasa and Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – Thousands of residents in the hinterland barangays of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental remain stuck in evacuation centers amid days of gunbattle between government forces and the New People’s Army (NPA).

Provincial Social Welfare Development Officer Merle Garcia on Wednesday said the number of evacuees rose to 18,000 as of Wednesday.

Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson met with Garcia, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Ernell Tumimbang and 303rd Brigade commander Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte in his office for the latest situation in Himamaylan.

Pasaporte said that while there is no more running gunbattle between government troops and the rebels, the former is pursuing the NPA.

But as of 6:50 p.m. Wednesday, Daily Guardian learned that another encounter occurred between the Army’s 94th Infantry Batallion (IB) and suspected NPA rebels in the city, the sixth since Oct 6.

He further said that the soldiers cannot let go yet of the operation after a top rebel commander was killed on the fifth day of the gunbattle between the two groups.

But Pasaporte said he has instructed the commander on the ground to clear the affected areas as soon as possible so that the evacuees can return and resume their normal lives.

The affected areas are barangays Carabalan, Cabadiangan and 3.

“But as of now there is nothing definite yet,” Pasaporte said.

Lacson said “there is no winner in this war” as he pointed out that the government lost two soldiers while the NPA lost a top commander.

Lacson stressed that his office is open to the rebels if they decide to return to the folds of the law.

The governor is set to visit the evacuees today, Oct 12.