By CRIS DIAZ
with MARK FRANCISCO
Town Mayor Max Seno, of Opol, said that he has instructed the Municipal Disaster Risk, Reduction Management Office (MDRRMO) to assist the evacuation of the farmers in the three hinterland villages in Opol.
The evacuees, who were loaded into dumptrucks provided by the Opol municipal government Monday afternoon, reported to their respective barangay chairmen the presence of the rebels in the morning.
“According to the residents, the rebels are grouped into 50 people each and they loiter around alternately. Some even attempted to recruit the residents to join their group,” Seno said.
Seno said that the evacuation was triggered after the village residents expressed fear of a possible firefight after the military conducted combat operations in the town’s hinterlands on receiving reports of the presence of the armed communist rebels in the area.
He said he would also appeal to the municipal council to declare a “state of calamity” so that the evacuees could be taken care of.
A state of calamity would enable the municipal government to release the calamity fund intended for emergency situation. The local government unit (LGU) allocates 20 percent of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of the LGU.
Seno said that the evacuees are now temporarily housed in the town’s gymnasium. “They need food, medicines and other basic services while at the evacuation center,” Seno said.
He said that the municipal government would do everything to provide the basic services to the evacuees, particularly the school children who should not be disrupted in their studies.
“Classes are not disrupted because the evacuees are confined to one area only,” Seno said. “They are afraid because it was the first time that they experienced lawless persons roaming freely in their barangays.”
The farmers and village residents in Tingalan, Nangka-on, and Kauyonan, all of Opol, started the evacuation Tuesday after about 100 heavily armed NPA rebels were reportedly sighted in the area.
“Ka. Mabini,” who claimed to be the spokesperson of the NPA North Central Revolution Committee (NCRC) went on air on a local radio station Tuesday to confirm that the armed groups belonged to the NPA’s sub-regional command in Talakag, Bukidnon.
He said that there was nothing to fear because the NPA was only passing by in the area. “They [NPA] is harmless because they are highly disciplined as protector of the people,” Mabini said.
The Mindanao Daily News tried to contact the army’s 4th Infantry Division to get a reaction about the report and the deployment of the army combatants in the area to no avail.
So far, the municipal town of Opol has not reported any armed encounter in the hinterland villages as of press time.
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