MAMASAPANO, Maguindanao (MindaNews/06 February) – Many residents of this sleepy town need medical and psychological intervention for the trauma caused by the bloody encounter almost two weeks ago between police commandos and Moro rebels, a health official said on Thursday.
“We found out that aside from ordinary illness, many of the displaced families have been suffering emotional distress and trauma, especially elders and women,” according to Dr. Kadil Sinolinding, regional secretary of the Department of Health of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Sinolinding led a medical mission in Barangay Tukanalipao, where members of the PNP Special Action Force clashed with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front last Jan. 25.
Forty-four police operatives, 18 rebels and at least four civilian died in the clash which also forced thousands of residents to flee their homes.
Among those who apparently suffered trauma was Pahima Akmad, 29, mother of four from Tukanalipao.
“I cannot sleep well at night for fear armed men will return and war will happen again,” she said while clutching one of her daughters as she and other villagers lined up for medical services.
Akmad said her 70-year-old father had suffered hypertension as a result of the encounter.
“He has blood pressure problem and he is weak,” she added.
She recalled that early on January 25, she and the family were awakened by automatic gunfire forcing them to flee with only their clothes on.
Sinolinding’s team distributed medicines and conducted medical consultations with the displaced families.
“We are sending here DOH-12 personnel to conduct psychosocial counseling with the help of other government agencies,” Sinolinding told reporters at the end of the medical mission.
“They experienced a very stressful experience,” he said, adding many of them could hardly sleep for fear of yet another round of violence.
“Many have experienced post-traumatic stress. Our staff will attend to them to help them cope with the situation and move on,” he said. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)