State of calamity declared in Negros city amid series of clashes between gov’t troops and NPA rebels

BACOLOD CITY -- The local government of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental has declared a state of calamity, following series of armed encounters that affected thousands of residents in Barangay Carabalan.

Some residents of Sitio Medel, Barangay Carabalan, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental evacuates, following another clash in the village on Oct. 10 that killed an alleged wanted NPA top leader. (Photo courtesy of City Administrator Mary Jane Faduga)

The city council declared the entire city under a state of calamity during its special session on Monday, Oct. 10, upon the recommendation of Mayor Raymund Tongson Jr. and the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC).

This allows the city to utilize the Quick Response Fund and enables the release of national calamity funds to agencies involved in relief operations.

Currently, the city has P13 million in quick response funds, a portion of which will be allocated for the man-made calamity such as the encounter between the government troops and the New People’s Army which is now on the sixth day.

Based on the data from the city government, more than 13,000 individuals or more than 10 percent of the city’s population of 110,000 have been affected by the conflict since Oct. 6.

Vice Mayor Justin Gatuslao said that one barangay is on lockdown due to the pursuit operations of the Army.

Gatuslao said the city has enough resources to provide for the affected residents.

However, the biggest problem they are facing right now is that there are some areas that they can’t enter just yet, upon the advice of the Army.

“It is really the logistics in getting our goods to the areas. We have no choice. We’re just waiting for evacuees to come,” Gatuslao said.

On Oct. 8, two soldiers were killed while six others were wounded in a clash in Brgy. Carabalan. Two days later, an alleged wanted top leader of the NPA was killed in another encounter in the same village on Oct. 10.

Despite the insurgency situation, the Army assured the residents of their safety.

Meanwhile, the NPA’s Apolinario Gatmaitan Command (AGC) Regional Operational Command-Negros island is mourning the death of Romeo Nanta (whose aliases are ‘Juanito Magbanua,’ ‘Juaning,’ and ‘Jack’), commander of the Regional Operational Command of the Komiteng Rehiyon–Negros and the spokesperson of the AGC.

“This is a day of mourning for all comrades, revolutionary forces, friends and family, and especially the exploited and oppressed masses, not only in Negros but the whole country,” the rebel group said in a statement.