OVER 100 individuals were displaced and sought temporary evacuation at Tabuyuan Elementary School after an encounter ensued between the 46th Infantry Battalion (IB) forces and New People’s Army (NPA) on Saturday, March 11 at Sitio Magpalusong, Cabuyoan village, Mabini, Compostela Valley.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) 1001st Infantry Brigade Commander Brigadier General Macairog Alberto said the Provincial Government of Compostela Valley and the Local Government of Mabini have begun extending assistance to the affected residents during Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy’s visit Monday morning, March 13.
Alberto added that troops of 46th IB were mobilized and have participated in delivering services and provisions for the families temporarily sheltered in the evacuation center.
He said that residents were already advised to return to their homes as there were no longer offensive operations launched since Sunday, March 12.
Alberto said the engagement between the rebels happened at 2:15 p.m. on Saturday in response to a report they received that some lawless armed group were setting up road blockade in the area, which is considered as a form of intimidation and coercion for the residents.
Thus, soldiers went to the place to do security operations and were engaged in a 15-minute firefight that wounded Private First Class (PFC) Jay Mark Cornelio, PFC Jerry Dequinco and PFC Pablo Rebato Jr. after they were hit by improvised explosive device (IED).
Alberto also denied that they launched a mortar bomb attack since the MG520 attack helicopter has no capacity to carry a bomb as it is not part of its weapon system, and it only holds a machine gun and small rockets with caliber.
There was also a helicopter that carried injured soldiers who were brought to Davao City for treatment.
“Hindi (It's not a) bomb but gunfire support and the weapon system of the helicopter. Hindi naman makarga ang bomba at maliit lang ang helicopter na ginamit para ma-extricate yong wounded na tatlo (Bombs can't be carried and the helicopter that was used to extricate the three wounded soldiers is small),” he said.
The brigadier general also noted that the encounter area is far from the residential areas since there were no houses seen in the battle ground.
Mabini town Mayor Reynaldo Dayanghirang announced the affected residents have started to return Monday after Cabuyoan Village Captain Romeo Aban assured the place is already safe.
Dayanghirang, who assured assistance through the municipal social services office, said the families evacuated for fear of the encounter between the rebels and the government troops in sitios Patawon and Magpalusong in Cabuyoan Village.
He added there were no reported casualties on the part of the civilian community except for three soldiers who were injured when a planted IED went off.
The Save Our Schools Network (SOS) in Southern Mindanao Region also appealed to the public to help the Lumad and peasant communities from the sitios of Magpalusong and Patawon in Cabuyuan Village who were forced to flee from their communities after the encounter.
The communities need food, medicines and clothes as some residents were not able to bring enough clothes and food after the incident.
"If we are able to gather enough donations especially goods and clothes, a quick response team will immediately bring the relief goods," said SOS Network spokesperson Rius Valle.
For cash donations, donors may deposit it to the United Church of Christ in the Philippines account number 002083-8664-49, Branch 0208, BPI Davao Main or call Grace Beryl at 09466091270 or Reverend Daniel Plaicte at 09425570502.
Earlier, SOS posted on their Facebook page that an “aerial bombing” occurred at Magpalusong and Patawon in Cabuyuan Village.
Valle said the residents were forced to leave their respective houses after a series of aerial and mortar bombs struck the two villages.
He added that other residents from six sitios will also be evacuated.