CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY: The evacuees in Opol, Misamis Oriental, mostly children and women, have swelled to
576 on Wednesday as military operations against suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) continue.
Rommel Lunoy, head of the municipal disaster risk reduction management office (MDRRMO), said the figure was 276 higher than the reported number of evacuees reported Tuesday.
The evacuees abandoned their houses in four hinterland villages in the municipal town of Opol on Monday afternoon as the military mounted a combat operation following reported sightings of about 100 heavily armed NPA rebels.
Lunoy said the evacuees from the village of Kaayoman, composed of 245 children, are now housed in evacuation centers in Opol. Classes for schoolchildren were also held at the evacuation centers so as not to disrupted their studies.
The evacuees were provided food and medical assistance but disaster volunteers said they still need clothing, blankets and sleeping mats.
The MDRRMO is ready to evacuate the residents in the three other villages of Tinggalan, Nangka-on and Limonda, anytime on orders of the local government.
“We [MDRRMO] are on standby. Our vehicles and rescue equipment are in place. We are ready to move at any moment’s notice,” Lunoy said.
The village councils in the four villages have already declared a state of calamity in their areas, allowing the municipal government to release funds intended for the evacuees.
“[But] so far, there were no reports of armed encounters in the hinterlands of Opol since the reported sighting of the rebels was reported on Monday,” he said.
The farmers in the hinterlands of Misamis Oriental usually evacuate every time a military operation is conducted for fear of being caught in the crossfire and only return after the military has cleared the areas.