The Daily Manila Shimbun


Close to 1,000 evacuate homes in North Cotabato town due to NPA: military

March 24, 2017

Hundreds of families were displaced due to the presence of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in North Cotabato, a regional military spokesman said Friday.

In an interview with the Daily Manila Shimbun, Lt. Silver Adell Belvis of the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion, said a total of 237 families or around 936 individuals left their homes in three sitios of Barangay Camutan, Antipas, North Cotabato on Thursday.

They are seeking shelter at the Antipas Municipal Gym in Barangay Poblacion of the same municipality.

Belvis said families left after around 50 armed rebels went to their area on Wednesday after people refused to be recruited by the rebels.

In a press release, Captain Rhyan Batchar, Army’s 10th Infantry Division spokesman, said reports from “Cotabato Police Provincial Office (CPPO) revealed that around 30 families who were earlier held hostage by the NPA in Sitio Embangan have managed to leave the area in the afternoon of the same day.”

“The arrival of the NPA in Brgy Camutan caused fear and panic among the residents, forcing them to flee to Poblacion Antipas,” he said.

“As of 4 pm, Sitios Patot, Datu Agod and Embangan of the barangay are totally vacated by the residents,” he added quoting a report from police.

“Additionally, per report from Antipas MDRRMO, elementary schools in Barangays Canaan, Embangan and Camutan have also suspended their classes till Friday, March 24 to ensure the safety of the children,” said Batchar.

Belvis said troops from 39th Infantry Battalion, Philippine National Police Special Action Force and Provincial Public Safety Company were sent to verify the reports and clear the communities.

He said during the military operation, the 39th Infantry Battalion encountered around five rebels under the Guerrilla Front 53 of Southern Mindanao Regional Committee at the vicinity of Sitio Malapange in Barangay Camutan around 7:15 pm last Thursday.

Belvis said there were no casualties on both sides as  government troops are  conducting clearing operation in the community so the people could return.

“Maybe tomorrow they can already return to their houses, after we finish the clearing operation,” he said. Robina Asido/DMS