Issue of April 14, 2019
Mt. Province

Panagbenga Flower Festival
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MP still peaceful after series of clashes
by Ofelia C. Empian

Even with the recent clashes between the New Peoples’ Army and government forces, political leaders of Mountain Province assured that the province remains generally peaceful.

Mountain Province Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan Jr. said during the conduct of the 15th Lang-ay Festival last week that there were no alarming incidents that happened in other areas of the province apart from the earlier reported incidences in the boundaries of Bauko and Tadian.

“The clashes happened in the mountains, which is far from the communities,” Lacwasan said, though he added that security measures were heightened during the festivity in the capital town of Bontoc due to the earlier incidents.

He said the province also supported the move of Bauko Mayor Abraham Akilit to evacuate some residents to safety during the ongoing pursuit operations of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines against the rebels.

Residents from the five barangays, especially at Sitio Cotcot, Barangay Poblacion, Bauko were forced to leave their homes during the gun battle of the opposing forces and the explosion that killed one policeman and injured nine others.

Akilit also temporarily suspended all tourism activities in the areas near barangays Bagnen, Abatan and Poblacion such as Mount Polis, Cotcot Aso, Nentingli, Mount Kapuwaw, Spanish Trails, Mount Am-o, Toktok Allan, Layaan Burial Cave, and Pangayapang Falls.

Akilit likewise ordered a debriefing of over 1,000 residents traumatized due to the several days of gun battle and pursuit operations.

The debriefing will be done by the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office together with the Municipal Health Office and the Department of Health.

“We invite all those who want to visit Mountain Province. We guarantee that the province is a peaceful destination for tourists,” Lacwasan said.

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