A week after military bombing, Aurora residents suffer from trauma

Residents of Aurora evacuating. (Photo by Karapatan – Central Luzon)

By DOMINIC GUTOMAN
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – After the military bombing in Dipaculao, Aurora, residents continue to feel trauma and fear.

Paulo, 34, not his real name, is with his family on May 21, when government troops asked them to evacuate due to the escalation of the encounter between the 91st Infantry Batallion – Philippine Army (IBPA) and the New People’s Army (NPA).

A week after the reported encounter and bombings, he confirmed reports that two helicopters were seen circulating in their area and the neighboring barangays, before they were asked to evacuate.

“It’s traumatic. The encounter happened in the mountains. However, firing continues in the river near our house,” Paulo said in Filipino in a phone interview with Bulatlat.

Six people are residing in their household, and three of them are children. “We also have families and friends in other barangays who were affected by the recent conflict.”

Residents of Aurora evacuating. (Photo by Karapatan – Central Luzon)

In the situation report of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), a total of 3,633 families or 12,814 persons were affected in 14 barangays in Dipaculao and Maria Aurora, Aurora.

Human rights group Karapatan – Central Luzon received reports of indiscriminate firing and bombing operations in the affected areas, causing fear among more residents. The group said that the military used two T129 ATAK helicopters, which were optimized for attack, armed reconnaissance, precision strike, and deep strike missions.

“Since April, residents were prohibited from farming in some of their farming sites due to the focused military operations (FMO) in the Aurora province,” Karapatan – Central Luzon said in a statement.

Paulo was among the families who evacuated from the premises of their barangay center for three days. They received family food packs from the DSWD, while the local government provided counseling sessions.

A total of P1.2 million worth of assistance was provided by the DSWD and the local government unit for the affected families.

“We just hope that this will not happen anymore. We are still traumatized. We want peace for our families,” said Paulo, underscoring that their family livelihood was also paralyzed during the military operations.

The International Humanitarian Law (IHL) governs the laws of armed conflict between the state and non-state parties, highlighting the need for both parties to respect and protect civilians and prevent civilian casualties. Harm towards civilians – whether physical or mental – is strictly prohibited. (RVO) (https://www.bulatlat.org)

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