SOME 15 families who were displaced due to the renewed clash between government soldiers and communist rebels in Sitio Kamansi, Banglay, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental, last year, have returned to their homes on Monday, June 10, the military said.
Members of the 58th Infantry Battalion (58IB) and local government officials facilitated the return of the evacuees after holding a ritual.
The 15 families were among the evacuees of Sitio Kamansi who fled and sought refuge at the Old Kibanban, Barangay Kibanban, Balingasag town, when the firefight erupted last May 2018.
Their evacuation center is just about seven kilometers from their community.
Other families took shelter at the provincial capitol grounds in Cagayan de Oro City. Until now, they refuse to return unless the military pulls out from their community.
"Kaning nanguli mao ni sila katong nagpabilin sa Old Kibanban nga atong gi-designate nga evacuation center, wala ni sila miuban atong nibakwit sa Capitol," 58IB civil military operation officer Captain Leoden Bajado said.
Bajado said these families have long been wanting to go back home after the military cleared the area from New People's Army (NPA) combatants after the two-week encounter.
"They have been clamoring to go home since last year but they were told by the leaders of the evacuees at Capitol grounds that cases will be filed against them if they return for the damages and lost items from the homes of other evacuees," the military said in a statement.
The military coordinated with Lagonglong town mayor Jap Puertas to help the affected families return to their homes safe. Teachers will also continue to provide education which has been disrupted last year, while an electric cooperative vowed to hasten the reconnection of electricity in the community.
Also, representatives from the town hall, police, teachers, parents and troops from 58IB helped the conduct of Brigada Eskwela in Kamansi Elementary School for the initial 31 students.
58IB commander Lieutenant Colonel Roy Anthony Derilo said the Army and Lagonglong LGU have continued to support each other for the stability of peace and development in Lantad-Balatukan Complex and the whole province as well.
"These communities are within the Convergence Areas for Peace and Development (CAPDEV) areas and government services and development will be prioritized to build an insurgency-resilient community and deny the NPA from further exploitation," Derilo said.
"These steps will be part of the municipality's action to end local communist armed insurgency. The participation of our former rebels in the Brigada Eskwela shows their sincerity in our peace efforts," he added.