Toboso, Escalante evacuees go home, classes to resume

The bodies of the slain rebels retrieved.*

Evacuees from Toboso and Escalante City in Negros Occidental have returned home as the security situation has gradually stabilized following a series of encounters between 79th Infantry Battalion soldiers and New People’s Army rebels last week, Lt. Col. J-Jay Javines, 3rd Division spokesperson, said Sunday, February 25.

Toboso Mayor Madonnah Jaojoco and Escalante Mayor Melecio Yap on Sunday also announced the lifting of the suspension of classes in their local government units.

“There have been no more reported sightings of armed rebels, signaling a positive shift towards peace and normalcy. However, the Army continues its diligent clearing operations to ensure the area remains secure,” Javines said.

Three rebels were killed in the encounters.

The cadavers of Emaryn Pastedio alias Jandie, Christopher Ebarle alias Micahel and Jose Caramihan alias Jose were brought to Shekainah Funeral Homes in Brgy. Jonob-Jonob, Escalante City, where their relatives can claim them, Javines said.

MGen. Marion Sison, 3ID commander, said the airstrike on February 22 against the fleeing rebels underscores the military’s commitment to address threats posed by insurgent activities, particularly in areas where civilians’ safety and well-being are compromised.

The timing and precision of the military operation reflect a responsive military capability that can ensure the protection of communities affected by the presence of the rebels, he said.

Sison said that returning displaced individuals to their homes is crucial in restoring stability and rebuilding communities in Escalante and Toboso.

It underscores the effectiveness of the collaboration of the Army, LGUs, government agencies, and partner stakeholders in safeguarding the welfare of residents and restoring order in conflict-affected areas, he said.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office VI – Disaster Response Management Division provided P971,364 in assistance to the Internally Displaced Individuals in Escalante City and Toboso who were affected by the encounters, the DSWD VI reported on its Facebook page.

“The DSWD Field Office VI is one in heart with these LGUs who respond to the armed conflict. We cannot imagine the trauma of families, especially the children, when they hear exchange of gunfire. Rest assured that our office will continue to help,” DSWD Regional Director Carmelo Nochete said.

Based on the reports from the Local City Social Welfare and Development Offices of Escalante City and Toboso, 268 families with 1,092 individuals were affected, the DSWD reported.

They were provided food and non-food items consisting of 366 family food packs, 183 hygiene kits, and 183 sleeping kits to augment the initial assistance provided by Local Government Units, the DSWD said.*

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