Over 100 residents in Barangays Cambigsi and Cansumbol in Bilar underwent stress debriefing on Thursday in the wake of the armed encounter between government troops and suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels along the boundary between the two far-flung villages.
According to Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) chief Anthony Damalerio, some of the residents including children were traumatized by the 30-minute gunfight that left a Philippine Army soldier and a suspected rebel fighter dead.
This prompted Task Force Dagohoy, the province’s anti-crime, anti-insurgency and development group, to launch the stress-debriefing operation led by PDRRMO personnel who were trained and licensed to conduct psychosocial intervention.
“Based sa ilang firsthand account nila, dunay naka experience og trauma, mahadlok na mobalik, once makadungog og buto-buto duna nay fear…Ang uban mahadlok moadto sa ilang umahan, mahadlok sa pagkuha sa ilang mga baboy, kanding na nabilin,” said Damalerio.
Damalerio expressed optimism that the operation helped place residents especially children at ease after the incident.
Families in the vicinity of the clash were evacuated when the firefight erupted with some having to run from their homes to the barangay hall and the town’s central district.
“Makatabang ning stress debriefing labina sa mga bata nan aka-experience g’yud sa actual na buto-buto kadtong nakakita sa pagdagan sa pag-evacuate nila, duna g’yuy kakuyaw sila na nasinati,” he said.
The evacuees stayed at the municipal hall overnight as hot pursuit operations against the rebel stragglers ensued, but they were allowed to return home a day after the clash.
Damalerio noted that the PDRRMO has 35 personnel licensed to facilitate stress-debriefing training.
Their training started after the 2013 Bohol Earthquake, the most devastating calamity to hit the province in recent history which left scores of survivors traumatized.
The same team was also deployed to conduct a stress-debriefing program in Inabanga and other affected towns in the wake of the Abu Sayyaf incursion back in 2017.
According to Damalerio, the provincial government is set to launch a medical mission and offer more services to the residents of the hinterland villages of Cambigsi and Cansumbol after the recent clash.
The initiative which is eyed for implementation within the month will be facilitated through the Capitol’s medical outreach arm.
Following the armed encounter, Governor Arthur Yap deployed “prosperity teams” to provide basic services to remote barangays that have been out of the government’s reach as part of efforts to prevent the recruitment of villagers in joining the armed rebel movement or supporting its cause. (A. Doydora)