Finish anti-rebel operations quickly, mayor asks military in Sultan Kudarat
SEN. NINOY AQUINO, Sultan Kudarat — Mayor Dante Manganaan of this municipality named after the late former Senator Benigno S. Aquino Jr. urged the military on Friday to finish its operations against communist rebels in the area quickly and ensure the safety of noncombattant civilians.
Manganaan issued the call following evacuations from Barangay (village) Nate starting Thursday, when soldiers from the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion started combat operations in the area.
By Friday, more than a thousand individuals had sought refuge in the Nate village hall and nearby school buildings.
“Some 360 families, composed of close to 2,000 individuals, have fled for fear that they might get caught in the crossfire,” Manganaan said.
Manganaan said the tension in Nate started last Saturday when soldiers and New People’s Army rebels clashed. An unidentified rebel was killed while a soldier was wounded in the encounter.
Manganaan said that the local government immediately provided the evacuees with food and other relief items but feared the town’s resources could not sustain the assistance if the situation lasted much longer.
While some evacuees would return to the affected areas during the daytime, he said, it was obvious that they had no plans of resettling there while the operations were continuing.
“For a third-class municipality, our limited budget could not sustain [the provision of relief goods] if the evacuees stay longer in the evacuation site. We might run out of budget for their basic needs,” Manganaan said.
The town used to be known as Kulaman, a barangay of the municipality of Kalamansig, until 1989 when it was made a muncipality and named after the husband of then President Corazon Aquino and father of the current President of the Philippines.
Dearly Gavileno, co-chair of the finance committee of Nate’s village council, said village’s quick-response fund of P60,000 had run out as of Friday.
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