A TOTAL of 86 families were displaced and forced to evacuate after a firefight erupted between the government troops and the members of New People's Army (NPA) in Barangay Dominga, Calinan District, Davao City Wednesday dawn, May 10. Captain Alenel Valles, Civil Military Operations (CMO) Officer of the 3rd Infantry Battalion, told SunStar Davao that the encounter happened at around 1 a.m., Wednesday, May 10, while the military forces were conducting clearing operations at that time and clashed with an undetermined number of communist rebels. At 4 p.m., Wednesday, the encounter is still ongoing and at least nine soldiers were wounded-in-action (WIA) and two of them were in critical condition. Contrary to reports of aerial bombing allegedly undertaken by the Philippine Air Force (PAF), Tactical Operations Group (TOG)-Davao commander Lieutenant Colonel John Ritchie Pabilona clarified that they were only providing Close Air Support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) troops on the ground. The aircraft, MD520-MG helicopter, that provided the support is equipped with rockets and machine guns. Davao City Police Office (DCPO) spokesperson Ma. Teresita Gaspan said they have already sent their police officers to augment and assist the troops fighting against the communist rebels in the outskirts of Davao City. "Ang DCPO naman, we are prepared for that. In fact, we have deployment nanaka base sa Tugbok and platoon natin sa Mulig. They are tasked to assist the insurgency [there]," she said. She also said they continuously conduct combat patrolling and focused monitoring operations under the Public Safety Company Center to ensure the welafre and security of the residents in the area. Based on the press statement issued by the City Information Office (CIO), Barangay Captain Ivy Marie Lumandas immediately sought the assistance of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio to address the needs of the evacuees who are affected by the armed struggle and who are temporarily sheltered in Barangay Dominga Hall. Davao City Social Services Develpment Office (CSSDO) chief Maria Luisa Bermudo said they have already sent social workers to evaluate the needs of the families for individual release of food packs and assess their situation. They expect that the evacuees will stay out of their homes for several days.
by JULIET C. REVITA