By SHIELA MAE BUTLIG
TENSION continued to build up in the hinterlands of Claveria, Misamis Oriental, because of rebel forces have remained in the area and continued to pose security threats, a military official said on Wednesday.
Lt. Col. Roy Anthony Derilo, commander of the Army’s 58th Infantry Battalion, said this even as troops and a New People’s Army group exchanged firepower against on Wednesday afternoon.
“Nagboto-boto nasad,” said Derilo even as he claimed that a number of guerrillas have remained in Minalwang, hiding.
No one was reported wounded in the recent skirmishes.
The military said Minalwang is a vast and strategic place in that it lies near the boundaries of Misamis Oriental, Agusan del Sur and Bukidnon, and rebels could criss-cross.
“Naay mga gatago lang sa area, wala manglakaw. Ang uban ani nila nanglakaw pero naay nagpabilin, nagbulag-bulag ni sila karon,” Derilo said.
The recent clashes in Claveria’s outlying areas have so far forced some 200 villagers to evacuate to safer grounds. Many are being housed in a public school in Malansagay.
Derilo said that while the evacuees could return to their homes, most of them refused to do so for fear of getting caught in the crossfires.
“Actually, layo raman ni sila. Dako man gud ning Minalwang. Di na sila kakita sa actual encounter kay layo raman sila. Makadungog lang sila sa boto-boto, mao nang mahadlok sila,” he said.
Derilo said the military has continued with its clearing operations and was the 58th IB was waiting for further instructions from Camp Evangelista.
He said troops have discovered that the rebels had been well-entreched in Minalwang, pointing out that in one NPA camp, soldiers found a lecture hall, a kitchen and utensils and food supplies, including those from a communal farm and a fishpond.