BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — The number of families displaced by the ongoing government offensive against New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas in Asipulo town in Ifugao province has risen to 122 from 37 families last May 28, municipal social welfare and development officer (MSWDO) Myla Dulnuan said on Wednesday, June 1.
Dulnuan said Namal Elementary School in Barangay Namal now shelters 85 families, up from from 33 families. Some 37 households also evacuated to the Pula barangay hall compound because it is more accessible to the residents, the social welfare official added.
Dulnuan said locals opted to evacuate because army troops are still operating in the forested area near their villages.
“We cannot assure their safety should they go back. We also asked locals not to go to the forest just yet,” she said.
The MSWDO officer added that some locals have gardens near the forest, and they worry about their untended crops.
“But we told them to give priority to their safety,” she stressed.
Dulnuan added that the local government and the local office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development continue to provide food supplies for the evacuees.
Troops from the 54th Infantry Battalion are pursuing NPA rebels they identified as members of the guerrilla front operating in Abra-Mountain Province-Ilocos Sur.
Clashes between the soldiers and the rebels erupted on May 23 in Sitio Likew and Sitio Timmapaya on May 24, all in Barangay Namal. The Northern Luzon Command said the third clash happened on May 29 in Sitio Binangyuyaw.
An NPA died in the last battle, and soldiers recovered an M16A2 rifle. There was no reported casualty from the government side.
On May 26, residents and the local government assisted a wounded rebel entrusted by his comrades to the community for medical attention. The LGU turned over the wounded to the soldiers after the hospital tended to their injuries. – Rappler.com
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