HIMAMAYLAN CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Thousands of upland folk have fled their homes in at least three sitios or communities here after two days of fighting between government soldiers and rebels.
“Bullets whizzed through our house and we had to hit the floor,” Renea Mendoza told DNX in Hiligaynon as she sat on a folding bed with her youngest son inside the Himamaylan Evacuation Center, one of nine temporary shelters opened by City Hall here.
At least 1,767 residents or 436 families from Carabalan have fled their homes after two days of fighting, City Hall reported.
The Social Welfare Office identified the centers as those in the Carabalan Day Care with 18 people, Gawad Kalinga in Barangay 3 (458 people), Carabalan Gym (182), Talaban Elementary School (78), Payao Evacuation Center in Binalbagan town (78), Tongo Elementary School (240), Carabalan Baptist Church (35),Blessed Hope Church (80), End Time Message Church (88), Kampayasan Church (135),Teves Agustin Beach (45), and outside evacuation (332)
The Army, however, has yet to release a body count amid conflicting reports and information from the field and various sources that tend to indicate a body count higher than the previous armed clashes here in recent months.
“We are on top of the situation,” Mayor Raymund Tongson told DNX after heading the meeting of the Disaster Council that he chairs.
Tongson said the situation remains “tactical” here as soldiers continue to hunt the fleeing Reds who were earlier reported to have been found in a clearing that soldiers raided.
The Army has not yet released any details about the clashes except when Camp Gerona broke the news about the encounter Monday morning, 6 October 2022.
Brigadier General Innocencio Pasaporte, however, said they will not yet release after-battle figures amid earlier reports that a rebel was found dead.
He said they continue to verify reports from troops on the ground and will not release casualty or fatality counts until verification is complete.
Residents at the Gawad Kalinga evacuation center told DNX the 6 October clash started in Sig-ang, a sub village about two kilometers from the national highway, around 6am of that day.
“We heard automatic rifle fire and explosions,” a father from Sig-ang who asked not to be named told DNX in Hiligaynon.