Tag Archive: Davao Oriental


Four soldiers and a New People’s Army (NPA) member were killed while five other security personnel were injured as the rebel group attacked the police station in Mati City, Davao Oriental, Sunday night, authorities said Monday.

Killed were Pfc. Daniel Damansila Jr., Pvt. Ryan Amigo, Pfc. Wil Christian Resuelo, Sgt. Adel Lucanan, and a still unidentified NPA member, said Colonel Romeo Brawner, spokesman of the Armed Forces’ Eastern Mindanao Command.

Injured were one policeman, Pfc. Virgil Logronio, Pfc. Emerito Castillo, Pfc. Ian Mark Babiera, and Pfc. Zaldy Canonero, Brawner said.

About 50 rebels carried out the attack around 7:30 p.m., he said.

Some of them, who were on an Elf truck, two vans, and five motorcycles, arrived at the police station and fired on it so policemen fought it out with them, Brawner said.

Members of the Davao Oriental provincial police reinforced the police station upon learning the incident, Southern Mindanao regional police spokesman Superintendent Antonio Rivera said.

Troops of the Army’s 701st Brigade on armored personnel carriers also reinforced the policemen and engaged the rebels in a running gun battle, Brawner said.

A policeman was wounded while an NPA member was killed during the clash in Brgy. Poblacion, he said.

Elements of the 104th Division Reconnaissance Company were also sent to join the pursuit, but were landmined around 8 p.m.

Members of that unit were on the way to the clash site when a landmine explosion hit the truck were riding in Sitio Magay, Brgy. Don Martin Marundan, only 300 maters away from the 701st Brigade headquarters, Brawner said.

Two landmines exploded near the brigade headquarters, Rivera said.

Damansila and Amigo died on the spot. Resuelo was initially wounded along with Logronio, Castillo, Babiera, and Canonero, but he expired in the hospital later, Brawner said.

Lucanan, on the other hand, died after being shot at a rebel checkpoint near the Saint Camillus Hospital in Brgy. Matiao.

Lucanan was unarmed and in civilian clothes at the time, but he introduced himself as soldier because the men at the roadblock were in PNP uniforms, Brawner said.

Lieutenant General Aurelio Baladad, commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, condemned the organized attack, particularly the use of landmines.

He said the attack was meant to embarrass the government since Davao Oriental was already declared “insurgency free” in 2013.

“They (NPA) gathered rebels from other provinces to attack and disrupt the already peaceful lives of the people of Davao Oriental,” Baladad said.

Major General Eduardo Año, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, called the attack a “desperate move” by the NPA amid developmental programs of Davao Oriental.

“We condemn this attack, which was notably carried out in a populated community… Davao Oriental remains a development-ready province. We will keep it that way,” he added. (John Roson)

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One soldier was killed while at least six others were injured when suspected New People’s Army (NPA) members detonated a landmine against a convoy of military trucks in Lupon, Davao Oriental, early Tuesday, the military said.

Private first class Jhasam Diaz of the 28th Infantry Battalion expired while being brought to a hospital, Army 10th Infantry Division spokesman Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza said.

Six other soldiers were wounded and are now being treated at the Tagum Regional Hospital and Davao Oriental Provincial Hospital in Mati City, Paniza said.

The attack occurred around 12:20 a.m., while Diaz and other members of the 28th IB’s “peace and development team” were passing through Sitio Mainit, Brgy. Calapagan, on two military trucks.

The team was heading back to its headquarters when a landmine exploded and hit the rear portion of the second vehicle, Paniza said.

The attacked troops had just finished providing security to other soldiers who are conducting rehabilitation operations in areas affected by typhoon “Pablo,” according to the regional military spokesman.

“The NPA again showed barbarism and inhuman acts by disturbing our humanitarian assistance activities,” Paniza said.

Troops’ homes raided

Meanwhile, suspected NPA members raided homes of active and retired soldiers, as well as a former policeman, in Kinoguitan, Misamis Oriental, around 6 a.m. Tuesday.

About 25 fully-armed men “simultaneously ransacked” the houses of Pfc. Benjamin Timbal, of the 58th Infantry Battalion; retired Ssgt. Eliseo Salvacion; and retired PO4 Ananias Requerme in Purok 4, Brgy. Poblacion, Army 4th Infantry Division spokesman Lt. Col. Eugenio Osias said.

The rebels also raided the homes of former municipal councilor Benito Salvacion and one Vionica Llagas, Northern Mindanao regional police spokesman Supt. Ronnie Francis Cariaga said.

The raiders took Army camouflage uniforms, a pair of combat boots, a caliber-.45 pistol, four cellular phones, and other personal belongings before fleeing towards hilly part of Brgy. Buko Gamay, he said.

No one was reported injured during the raids.

Members of the 58th IB were sent to pursue the rebels, Osias said. (John Roson)

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Seven aid workers, mostly government doctors, were seriously injured in a vehicular accident after holding medical missions in typhoon-wrecked Baganga, Davao Oriental, Tuesday afternoon, a military official said Wednesday.

Major Jacob Thaddeus Obligado, commander of the Army’s 10th civil-military operations battalion, identified the victims as Dr. Nic Cantiro, Dr. Almatin Dimaucom, Dr. Nor-ayin Salic, Dr. Junnah Mangacoy, Dr. Grace Espinosa, Dr. Taher Salaik, all members of the Maguindanao Provincial Health Office; and their driver Tuy Pangilan.

All seven were brought to the Cateel District Hospital and were later transferred to the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City.

“Si Dr. Salaik lang ang stable. The rest (are in) critical condition,” Obligado said in a text message.

The incident occurred around 4:15 p.m. while the seven were travelling along the National Highway in Brgy. Saoquigue on a black Mitsubishi Pajero.

The seven were on the way to the incident command post (ICP) in Brgy. Lucod, which serves as a center of relief operations for victims of super typhoon “Pablo,” Obligado said.

“Pauwi na sila noon after a week of conducting medical missions, dadaan lang sila sa ICP bago umuwi,” he said.

“May iniwasan daw na motor kaya bumangga sa puno (ang sasakyan),” Obligado said.

Baganga, the town where “Pablo” (international name: Bopha) made its first landfall on Dec. 4, is one of the municipalities that bore the typhoon’s brunt.

Some 127 people died, more than 400 were hurt, and at least 48 remain missing in the town, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The storm also destroyed 6,900 houses in the town, which still has no communication lines and electricity, according to the NDRRMC. (John Roson)

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Police in storm-wrecked Davao Oriental have asked the provincial government to impose a curfew in three towns amid reports of looting of stores and warehouses.

Senior Supt. Rommil Mitra, Davao Oriental Provincial Police director, said the Department of Agriculture has complained that looters stole rice from a National Food Authority (NFA) warehouse in Cateel.

“Kaya nga nag-request kami ng curfew kay Governor (Corazon Malanyaon), mag-issue siya ng executive order para mas madali, marestore ‘yung order,” Mitra said in a phone interview Saturday.

Cateel, along with Boston and Baganga, were hit hard by typhoon “Pablo” on Tuesday and are still without electricity.

The ER Supermarket in Baganga was also reportedly looted, but local authorities have yet to release an investigation report on the incident, 2Lt. Zaida Vidad, spokeswoman of the Army’s 701st Brigade based in Mati City, said.

“Pagka madilim na, nandiyan na ‘yung problema, ‘yung mga looting… mas mabuti kung mas maaga meron nang curfew kasi totally blackout sa mga area na ‘yan,” Mitra said.

“Ni-recommend namin na kung pupuwede magkaroon ng curfew dito sa tatlong lugar para maiwasan ‘yung mga violation sa gabi, ‘yung mga criminal what-not.”

Mitra said he has asked the chief of police in Cateel to explain the incident at the NFA warehouse and directed the latter, as well as police in Boston and Baganga, to guard stores and warehouses.

The task comes as police and other security forces in Davao Oriental still have their hands full in distributing relief goods, clearing roads of debris, and searching for at least 27 people who remain missing.

Mitra said he asked for additional policemen to help get the jobs done.

Some 73 policemen from Davao del Norte, the Police Regional Office 11 in Davao City, the Police Regional Office 13 in neighboring Caraga region have already arrived and more are expected to come, Mitra said.

Meanwhile, the number of deaths caused by “Pablo” in Davao Oriental reached 227.

One-hundred and eighteen died in Baganga, 59 in Cateel, 27 in Boston, 17 in Caraga town, three in Mati City, two in Tarragona, and one in Manay, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported Friday night.

A total of 559 people, mostly in Baganga, were injured while 27 remain missing in Caraga, Baganga, and Cateel, according to the PDRRMC. (John Roson)

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‘Pablo’ death toll nears 500

The number of fatalities caused by typhoon “Pablo” shot further up to 474 on Friday as authorities continue to search for 300 people who remain missing, mostly in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental.

“Pablo,” the strongest storm to hit the country this year, has also left more than P4 billion worth of damage, mostly in crops and livestock, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said.

Some 223 people died of drowning and mudslides in Compostela Valley alone, the Office of Civil Defense-11 (OCD-11) said in a report Friday.

In Davao Oriental, the number of fatalities jumped to 216 after authorities found 118 bodies in Baganga, Lt. Zaida Vidad, acting spokesperson of the Army’s 701st Brigade based in Mati City said, citing figures from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

“It’s (death toll) still increasing… local authorities are considering placing the unidentified and decomposing bodies in a mass grave because of the odor,” Maj. Gen. Ariel Bernardo, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, told reporters by phone.

“Pablo” also killed 11 people in Northern Mindanao, 11 in Caraga region, seven in Central Visayas, two in Eastern Visayas, two in Palawan, one in Zamboanga City, and one in Capiz, the NDRRMC said.

Some 377 people were still missing in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental as of Friday morning, according to the OCD-11.

P4-B damage to agriculture, infra

As authorities continue to deal with the number of casualties, “Pablo” also reared its ugly head in terms of damages to infrastructure and agriculture, mostly in Mindanao.

The storm dealt an initially estimated P3.36 billion worth of damage to crops, livestock and fisheries in Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Northern Mindanao, Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley, and Davao Oriental, according to the NDRRMC.

Damage to infrastructure like roads, bridges, flood control system, and irrigation in those areas has been initially assessed at P630.97 million, the agency said.

The figures are expected to rise further when more reports come in from damage assessment teams.

The OCD-11 said in its report that agriculture damage in Compostela Valley alone has reached P3.4 billion, as more than 50,000 hectares of land planted with rice, corn, coconut, banana, vegetables, and other high-value crops were destroyed.

5 million affected, 26 areas under ‘calamity’

The storm affected 5,141,356 people in Mimaropa, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao, and Caraga, according to the NDRRMC.

An estimated 15,850 houses were damaged and destroyed, forcing 310,620 people to remain in evacuation centers or take shelter at the homes of relatives and friends, the agency said.

Local authorities have declared the entire provinces of Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, Surigao del Sur, and Siquijor under state of calamity, according to the NDRRMC.

Also placed under calamity status are Magsaysay, Araceli, Roxas, San Vicente, Taytay, El Nido, and Cagayancillo of Palawan; Baloi, Kapatagan, Kauswagan, Linamon, Matungao, Pantar, Pantao Ragat, and Salvador of Lanao del Norte; Gitagum, Kinoguitan, Lagonglong, Laguindingan, Libertad, Opol, Talisayan, Gingoog City, and Cagayan de Oro City of Misamis Oriental; Lopez Jaena and Plaridel, Misamis Occidental; as well as Asuncion and San Isidro of Davao del Norte. (John Roson)

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274 dead in ‘Pablo’ onslaught

Pablo making landfall in Baganga, Davao Oriental, Tuesday morning. (Photo courtesy of Army 701st Brigade)

Pablo making landfall in Baganga, Davao Oriental, Tuesday morning. (Photo courtesy of Army 701st Brigade)

(Updated 10 p.m.) Some 274 people were killed while 279 went missing as typhoon “Pablo” (international name: Bopha) ravaged Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, and nearby areas, authorities said Wednesday.

The huge death toll was made known only a day after “Pablo” struck, as electricity and communication lines were either shut down or cut off, preventing authorities from contacting “isolated” villages.

Four were killed in Central Visayas, two in Eastern Visayas, eight in Northern Mindanao, 253 in Southern Mindanao, the region of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, while seven were killed in Caraga, Office of Civil Defense administrator Benito Ramos said by phone Wednesday night.

“Three-hundred and thirty-nine were injured and 279 are still missing,” Ramos said.

Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental are considered as the “hard-hit” areas, not only because of the high number of deaths but also because of heavy damage to properties and infrastructure, Ramos said in an earlier interview.

Earlier, Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, spokesman of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division based in Compostela Valley, said at least 142 people were killed in the province.

Homes, Army detachment washed out

Pablo's devastation. (Photo courtesy of Army 701st Brigade)

Pablo’s devastation. (Photo courtesy of Army 701st Brigade)

Most of the fatalities were victims of a mudslide in New Bataan, and floods in Monkayo, Paniza said.

Three soldiers of the Army’s 66th Infantry Battalion – identified as identified as Ssgt. Olivares, Ssgt. Cabillion, and Ssgt. Catague – were among those killed in a mudslide in Brgy. Andap, New Bataan.

“‘Yung detachment or patrol base doon sa area, pati ‘yung mga kalapit na bahay, na-wash out,” he said.

Paniza said 58 people, including soldiers Sgt. Panague, Pfc. Armodia, Pfc. Batua, Sgt. Conejos, Pfc. Hingosa, Pfc. Hopeda, Pfc. Jegapo, and Pfc. Aranez, are still missing in Compostela Valley.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in Manila said many of those who died in New Bataan remain unidentified.

Winds brought down evacuation center, moved Army trucks

Evacuees taking shelter behind the wall of an evacuation center whose roof was blown away by Pablo's strong winds. (Photo courtesy of Army 701st Brigade)

Evacuees taking shelter behind the wall of an evacuation center whose roof was blown away by Pablo’s strong winds. (Photo courtesy of Army 701st Brigade)

In its report Wednesday afternoon, the Davao Oriental Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) reported 116 deaths in the province alone.

Fifty-nine were killed in Cateel, followed by 31 in Baganga, 15 in Boston, nine in Caraga town, and one each in Manay and Taragona.

Twenty-one people in different towns were still missing, according to the 5 p.m. PDRRMC report.

Lt. Zaida Vidad, acting spokesperson of the Army’s 701st Brigade based in Mati City, said the fatalities include 11 people who were killed when an evacuation center collapsed in Cateel due to strong winds.

“Malakas na hangin ang kanilang naramdaman… ang pagka-explain sa akin ng hepe ko doon, umaangat ‘yung Army trucks, gumagalaw sa lakas ng hangin, nadadala ng hangin,” Senior Supt. Rommil Mitra, Davao Oriental provincial police director, said in a separate phone interview Tuesday night.

Almost all buildings and houses in Brgy. Poblacion, Cateel, were left “roofless,” Mitra added.

More than 200 houses, various infrastructure, and communication towers were destroyed by strong winds, according to the PDRRMC.

Agricultural lands and livestock in Boston suffered severe damages, it added.

21 killed in other areas

Evacuees use a tent to shield themselves from rain beside the evacuation center whose roof was blown away. (Photo courtesy of Army 701st Brigade)

Evacuees use a tent to shield themselves from rain beside the evacuation center whose roof was blown away. (Photo courtesy of Army 701st Brigade)

The NDRRMC, meanwhile, said 21 other people were killed in storm-related incidents in Surigao del Sur (4), Misamis Oriental (4), Agusan del Sur (3), Misamis Occidental (2), Bukidnon (2), Negros Oriental (2), Cebu (1), Siquijor (1), Northern Samar (1), and Southern Leyte (1).

Most of these fatalities were hit by falling trees or victims of drowning, according to the NDRRMC.

Power still out in many areas

As of 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, various parts of Cagayan de Oro City, Malaybalay City and Valencia City in Bukidnon, Surigao del Sur, Asudan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Lanao del Sur, and Mabinay in Negros Oriental were still experiencing power outages, the NDRRMC said.

Power and communications lines are also still down in the hard-hit areas of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, the council said.

As of 8 p.m., the center of “Pablo” was spotted 160 kilometers north-west of Roxas, Palawan, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration.

The storm, moving west-northwest at a speed of 15 kilometers per hour, is packing maximum sustained winds of 120 kph and a gustiness of up to 150 kph, according to the state weather bureau.

When it made landfall in Davao Oriental Tuesday morning, “Pablo” had maximum sustained winds of 175 kph and a gustiness of up to 210 kph.

“Pablo,” the strongest storm to hit the country this year, is expected to be 510 kilometers west of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, Thursday afternoon and 700 kilometers west of Subic, Zambales, outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility, Friday afternoon. (John Roson)

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‘Pablo’ kills 5; 20 missing

At least five people were killed while not less than 20 others were reported missing when typhoon “Pablo” slammed into Mindanao and the Visayas Tuesday, authorities said.

Senior Supt. Rommil Mitra, Davao Oriental Provincial Police director, identified two of the fatalities as Erlinda Balante, 64, of Manay, and Rossel Along, 22, of Caraga town.

Balante died when her house in Brgy. Poblacion collapsed due to strong winds, while Along was killed after he slipped from the stairs amid the storm’s onslaught, Mitra said in a phone interview.

Four people were reported missing in different areas while two people were injured in Caraga, he said.

One Jigger Gomonit, 30, was killed when he was hit by a tree while riding a motorcycle in Panaon, Misamis Oriental, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council executive director Benito Ramos told reporters in Manila.

Elberto Daniel died when he was also hit by a falling tree while riding a motorcycle in Lazi, Siquijor, Ramos said.

Army patrol base washed away; 20 missing

In Compostela Valley, one soldier ranked sergeant died when floowaters washed away their patrol base in Brgy. Andap, New Bataan, Capt. Severino David, commander of the Armed Forces Eastern Command’s disaster response task group, said.

The soldier’s commanding officer, ranked lieutenant, was injured and is reportedly unconscious at a local hospital, David said.

About 20 “civilians” living near the patrol base were also washed away and are now missing, he said.

“Pablo,” the strongest storm to hit the country this year, made landfall in Baganga, Davao Oriental, around 4:45 a.m.

The storm packed maximum sustained winds of 160 kilometers per hour, with gusts of up to 195 kph as it moved west-northwest at 20 kph.

Roofs ripped off, posts toppled

In Caraga town, the storm ripped off roofs and toppled electric posts and trees, leaving the main road impassable to vehicles.

“Ang sitwasyon ng kalsada unpassable pa hanggang sa ngayon, marami pong mga malalaking puno, puno ng niyog, at saka mga poste, kable ng kuryente ang nakaharang sa daan,” Mitra said, adding that clearing operations by the DPWH and police were underway.

Liza Mazo, director of the Office of Civil Defense in Southern Mindanao, said floods, landslides, and storm surges caused by the storm damaged a number of roads, bridges, in davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.

Among those that experienced landslides were Compostela Valley’s gold-rush area, Mt. Diwata, while storm surges hit Davao Oriental’s coastal towns of Banay-Banay, Manay, and Boston.

Strong winds and heavy rain also caused damages in Surigao del Sur while three people, including a mother and her child, were injured after a coconut tree fell on their home in Buenavista, Agusan del Norte, Blanche Gobenciong, OCD-Caraga director, said.

Power out

Around 10 a.m., the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services administration tracked the center of the storm to 50 kilometers east of Malaybalay, Bukidnon.

“It is starting to trip electric posts and trees in Bukidnon. Moderate heavy rains are also felt in Bukidnon,” Chief Supt. Gil Hitosis, Northern Mindanao regional police director, said in a text message 10 a.m.

Malaybalay City experienced a power outage amid strong winds, he said.

“Almost all” barangays of Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City also suffered power outages because strong winds cut electric lines, regional police spokesman Supt. Ronnie Cariaga said.

“Sa kabutihang palad naman po ay walang reported casualty so far at mas maganda ang situation kaysa last year,” Cariaga said, comparing the situation to when tropical storm “Sendong” killed more than 1,000 people last year.

Visayas prepares

In Western Visayas, local governments suspended classes at different levels in Capiz, Negros Occidental, Bacolod City, Iloilo City, and Guimaras, regional police director, Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz said.

The storm was already being felt in the Central Visayas provinces of Cebu and Negros Oriental as of Tuesday evening. (John Roson)

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Two people were killed while four others were reported missing when typhoon “Pablo” slammed into Mindanao Tuesday morning, police said.

Senior Supt. Rommil Mitra, Davao Oriental Provincial Police director, identified the fatalities as Erlinda Balante, 64, of Manay, and Rossel Along, 22, of Caraga town.

Balante died when her house in Brgy. Poblacion collapsed due to strong winds, while Along was killed after he slipped from the stairs amid the storm’s onslaught, Mitra said in a phone interview.

Four people were reported missing in different areas while two people were injured in Caraga, he said.

“Pablo,” the strongest storm to hit the country this year, made landfall in Baganga, Davao Oriental, around 4:45 a.m.

The storm packed maximum sustained winds of 160 kilometers per hour, with gusts of up to 195 kph as it moved west-northwest at 20 kph.

In Caraga town, the storm toppled electric posts and trees, leaving the main road impassable to vehicles.

“Ang sitwasyon ng kalsada unpassable pa hanggang sa ngayon, marami pong mga malalaking puno, puno ng niyog, at saka mga poste, kable ng kuryente ang nakaharang sa daan,” Mitra said, adding that clearing operations by the DPWH and police were underway.

Liza Mazo, director of the Office of Civil Defense in Southern Mindanao, said floods, landslides, and storm surges caused by the storm damaged a number of roads, bridges, in davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.

Among those that experienced landslides were Compostela Valley’s gold-rush area, Mt. Diwata, while storm surges hit Davao Oriental’s coastal towns of Banay-Banay, Manay, and Boston.

Around 10 a.m., the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services administration tracked the center of the storm to 50 kilometers east of Malaybalay, Bukidnon.

“It is starting to trip electric posts and trees in Bukidnon. Moderate heavy rains are also felt in Bukidnon,” Chief Supt. Gil Hitosis, Northern Mindanao regional police director, said in a text message 10 a.m.

Malaybalay City experienced a power outage amid strong winds, he said.

In Western Visayas, local governments suspended classes at different levels in Capiz, Negros Occidental, Bacolod City, Iloilo City, and Guimaras, regional police director, Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz said. (John Roson)

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More than 100 people were rescued as flashfloods caused by heavy rain hit several villages in Banaybanay, Davao Oriental, early Wednesday, a military official said.

Lieutenant Christy Isis Achanzar, a member of Army 10th Civil-Military Operations Battalion deployed in the province, said the floods started around 6 a.m. in four barangays.

Forty-five people were rescued in Purok San Isidro, Brgy. Panikian; Sitios Pongotan, Kanipaan, and Niyogan of Brgy. Piso; and Purok 1, Brgy. Cabangcalan; and are now taking shelter at the Municipal Womens Training Center, she said.

Fifty-seven more persons were rescued in Purok 7, Brgy. Calubihan, and are presently taking shelter at the Piso Camp Elementary School.

Achanzar said rescue teams are still on standby and observing the cloud ceiling for possible succeeding rains. (John Roson)

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(Update) Unidentified armed men shot dead a radio reporter in Mati City, Davao Oriental, Tuesday afternoon, police said.

Senior Supt. Perpetuo Macion, Davao Oriental Provincial Police director, identified the victim as Nestor Sapidan Libaton, a reporter and blocktimer at the Catholic Church-owned DXHM AM and Spirit FM.

The incident occurred around 2 p.m., while Libaton and fellow reporter Eldon Cruz were riding a motorcycle along the National Highway in Sitio Panumbon, Brgy. Don Enrique Lopez, from Tarragona.

Three men on another motorcycle reportedly overtook Cruz’s motorcycle then shot Libaton, his backrider.

“Nakasunod allegedly ‘yung gunman, nag-overtake, then binaril siya (Libaton),” Macion said, citing initial investigation results.

Libaton died on the spot because of bullet wounds while assailants were seen fleeing towards Tarragona.

Policemen found at the scene five empty shells of a caliber-.38 handgun, an empty shell of a caliber-.45 pistol, and a misfired caliber-.38 ammunition.

Probers have yet to determine if the killing was related to Libaton’s work as a media practitioner.

“We are trying to determine if the killing was work-related, or stemmed from family problem and ownership of land,” Macion said.

“From what other media practitioners here have told me so far, his (Libaton) station, being managed by the Church, does not focus much on commentaries and has a spiritual theme,” the police official said.

Police have formed special investigation task group Libaton to follow up on the case. (John Roson)

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