BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/15 March) — Fifty-one families fled their homes after fighting broke out between elements of the police’s City Public Safety Company and suspected New People’s Army rebels in Sitio Malanay, Purok 8, Barangay Bonbon on Thursday.
Police reports said the clash erupted at 11:20 a.m. and they reinforcement from the Regional Public Safety Battalion arrived at 1:00 p.m.
Another gunfight with the estimated 100 rebels who were about to withdraw took place upon the arrival of the reinforcement, the reports added.
The clash sent 51 families from Purok 7 and Purok 8, Bonbon fleeing to a nearby tourist adventure park.
“We all packed our bags and left our homes for fear as we heard loud explosions and automatic gunfire from the hills,” said Jessica Sobrero a resident of Purok 7.
“Our neighbors started getting out of their homes with their children so we followed with my family to the nearby tourist park since they have security and the area is well lit,” she added.
Senior Inspector Christian Lipke Rafols II, CPSC platoon leader said the encounter resulted from a pursuit operation against the rebels who disarmed two policemen last Wednesday in Bonbon.
He said the policemen were in Bonbon to serve arrest warrants.
“Our team caught up with the rebels the next day (Thursday), ending in a firefight,” he explained.
Rafols said the CPSC which was personally led by its commander, Chief Inspector Ferdinand Dacillo, stayed in the area overnight to ensure the safety for the villagers.
He added that they recovered an improvised explosive device that did not explode.
By 7:00 a.m. Friday the area was declared safe for the villagers to return to their homes. Police withdrew at around 10:00 a.m.
The regional police office reported that there were no casualties and injuries on the side of the police and civilians.
Last week, 126 families from three sitios in Barangay Anticala were displaced for five days after elements of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army encountered around 200 NPA members. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)