By NITZ ARANCON
THE town council of Opol on Tuesday placed four villages under a state of calamity even as the Army’s 58th Infantry Battalion prepared to launch offensives against Maoist rebels who set up camp in oultying Barangay Nangkaon.
This developed as the number of families that fled the villages increased from 73 to 124 as of 1 pm yesterday.
Opol municipal disaster risk-reduction management officer Romel Lonoy said officials of the 58th IB met with Opol Mayor Maximino Seno and informed local officials it would take two weeks of military operations to clear barangays Nangkaon, Tingalan, Limunda, and Kauyonan of New People’s Army rebels.
“Ingon ang military nga mohatag ra sila ug clearance kon kanus-a nila ipabalik sa ilang mga barangay ang mga bakwit nga nia karon sa atong lungsod,” said Lonoy.
On Tuesday, members of Opol’s legislature declared Nangkaon, Tingalan, Limunda, and Kauyonan under a state of calamity. The declaration would enable Mayor Seno to use the town government’s five-percent calamity fund to aid the evacuees.
At presstime, the town government counter 570 people needing help at the local government’s Audio-Visual Building that was turned into an evacuation area since Monday.
Opol Vice Mayor Chezarina Ortigoza said the town council unanimously voted for the state-of-calamity declaration during a special session on Tuesday afternoon following the recommendation of Lonoy.
“Gawas nga among gikinahanglan nga magamit ang among five-percent calamity, fund, ang akong dako nga toyo sa pagpa-declare nga state of calamity aron among magatagan sa protection ang mga residente sa maong mga barangay nga dunay sigthings sa armed group,” Lonoy said.