SORSOGON CITY, 23Sept2013 (BicolToday.com) – As reports went public Monday that helicopter gunships opened fire on targets on Sunday near civilian populated areas in the upper villages of Maalo and Calmayon in Juban town, the Church in Sorsogon airs protest on the reported helicopter strafing on known civilian lairs.
The situation also turned to worse when teachers of Maalo and Calmayon elementary schools abandoned their posts out of fear due to the strafing,
Bishop Arturo M, Bastes informed this online news group that he will contact the Vicar General to end this strafing on civilians by military helicopters.
“I will contact the Vicar General to appeal to the military to stop this senseless strafing on civilians.” the Bishop informed BicolToday.com by cellphone, explaining the he is not in the province this day.
This came up when eighty one (81) families, sixty (60) households in upper Maalo village, Juban town, had fled their homes as the firefight between Army soldiers and New People’s Army (NPA) rebels worsened, while two families in Calmayon village evacuated their houses as a result of heavy helicopter gunfire on Sunday. (see related story)
The local government of Juban informed BicolToday.com that it has sent foodstuffs to evacuation centers where refugees have sought refuge as a result of fierce fighting since Saturday, September 21.
“We are looking forward to ask help from the Red Cross to aid the refugees,” said Juban information officer Reline Arellano.
The Church is known as having extensive resources in mobilizing assistance for humanitarian work especially in areas torn by conflict.
Meantime, Army combat operations are reported still going on in attempt to flush out rebel units in the foothills of Mount Bentacan, particularly the upper villages of Maalo and Calmayon, Juban town.
Last Sunday, two helicopter gunships unloaded a hail of bullets on suspected rebels’ lairs, but several civilians reported on late Sunday afternoon that the strafing had targeted civilian-populated areas.
As of Monday, the Army local command has not issued any statement confirming the strafing. [BicolToday.com]
83 families flee homes in Sorsogon firefight, helicopter strafing