Personnel from the Department of Social Welfare and Welfare and Development (DSWD) unload relief goods for families displaced by gun battle in San Jorge, Samar. (Photo courtesy of DSWD)
TACLOBAN CITY -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 8 (Eastern Visayas) has distributed relief assistance to families displaced by the ongoing battle between soldiers and communist rebels in San Jorge town, Samar province.
A total of 66 families or 264 individuals from Bay-ang and Calundan villages in San Jorge received family food packs, mosquito nets, and blankets, the DSWD said Thursday.
Of the 66 families, 34 or 136 individuals are in evacuation center while 32 families or 128 persons are temporarily living with relatives.
These families fled their communities as gunfight erupted between the Philippine Army under the 63rd Infantry Battalion (IB) and New People’s Army (NPA) in the two upland villages three weeks ago.
Government troops have been patrolling in upland communities of San Jorge to pursue communist rebels who attacked 63rd IB soldiers by detonating anti-personnel landmines. The ambush slightly injured nine soldiers.
Families from the two interior villages of San Jorge left their homes for safety and sought shelter in evacuation centers.
DSWD-8 social welfare and development team leader Carissa Mendoza said they have been monitoring the situation of the evacuees to ensure that they are well taken care of.
In a statement, the Army said village officials have initiated the mass evacuation for fear of being caught in the crossfire.
“The Army’s 63rd Infantry Battalion has not restricted the residents to return to their homes. On the other hand, some of the residents of Calundan voluntarily evacuated from the area for fear of being attacked by the NPA, turning them into a setback from the terrorist organization’s losses,” it said.
“Currently, the residents are now situated at the evacuation center located in San Jorge. They are provided with their basic needs through the municipal and local government units, the DSWD, and other stakeholders. Individuals with ailments were checked by the volunteer doctors and free medicines were given to them through the medical missions,” it added.
The Department of Education also sent teachers to tutor displaced students so they won’t miss out their lessons during their stay in the evacuation center.
Both the United States and European Union have declared the Communist Party of the Philippines - NPA as a terrorist group. (PNA)