Tag Archive: Southern Mindanao

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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(Updated 2:10 a.m.) Five civilians and 11 soldiers were injured when New People’s Army (NPA) members carried out back-to-back landmine attacks in Bansalan, Davao del Sur, Sunday, the military said.

The latest explosion occurred 7:30 p.m. in Sitio Tower, Brgy. Managa, hitting an ambulance with civilian volunteers of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) on board, Capt. William Alfred Rodriguez, civil-military operations officer of the Army’s 1002nd Brigade, said by phone.

The military identified the injured volunteers as Alberto Cabual Jr., Henaro Dumayas, Arnel Valeroso, Ivan Malingo, and Bonita Dela Cruz.

Dumayas and Cabual are reportedly in critical condition at the Digos Doctors Hospital while the others suffered slight injuries, Rodriguez said.

The PDRRMC ambulance, along with two others manned by Red Cross members and soldiers, was on its way to fetch soldiers who were injured in another landmine blast in Sitio Balutakay, also in Brgy. Managa, past 11 a.m. Rodriguez said.

Eleven members of the 39th Infantry Battalion, including two officers, were injured in the earlier blast, he said. Four of the soldiers are reportedly in critical condition.

The wounded soldiers’ names and ranks were not immediately available.

Troops were sent to Managa to check an information that rebels were “consolidating” in the barangay, Rodriguez said.

The soldiers clashed with an undetermined number of rebels for about an hour and were maneuvering when they were landmined, he said.

Additional soldiers have been sent to the area to extricate the landmined ambulance amid intelligence reports that the rebels will sieze it, Rodriguez said.

Four members of the NPA’s Front 51 were reportedly killed and several others are believed to be hurt during the clash, he said.

The NPA, the Communist Party of the Philippines’ armed wing, is set to celebrate its 45th founding anniversary on March 29. (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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A band of New People’s Army (NPA) members abducted a soldier and a policeman while conducting a “checkpoint” in Laak, Compostela Valley, on Thursday, a military official said.

Maj. Jacob Thaddeus Obligado, head of the Army’s 10th Civil Military Operations Battalion, identified the abducted soldier as Pfc. Jezreel Culango and the policeman, PO1 Ruel Pasion.

The two were abducted by members of the NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Committee’s Front 34, who conducted a checkpoint in Sitio Mangob, Brgy. Imelda, around 9 a.m., Obligado said in a text message late Thursday night.

Culango, based in Brgy. Sawata, San Isidro, Davao del Norte, was on his way to visit his girlfriend in Brgy. Mangloy when he was seized, Obligado said.

Pasion, assigned at the San Isidro Police Station, also happened to pass by the checkpoint when he was abducted, according to the military official.

The rebels, of whom 12 were seen sporting military attires and 18 in civilian clothes, were last seen heading towards Sitio Tugpahan, Brgy. Imelda, along with their captives, Obligado said.

Police and military personnel are were sent to pursue the rebels.

The abduction came just two days after the government and Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) ended an “extended” holiday ceasefire.

On Thursday, the CPP also warned of more offensives by the NPA, in response to new Armed Forces chief of staff Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista’s pronouncement to make insurgency “irrelevant” during his term.

“The New People’s Army continues to grow in number and in terms of firepower… Over the next few years, the NPA and the people’s militias will be able to initiate more frequent and widespread tactical offensives at the front, regional, inter-regional and national levels,” the CPP’s information bureau said in a statement.

“General Bautista cannot stop the momentum of growth of the New People’s Army,” it added.

Bautista, who is credited for the military’s current counter-insurgency plan “Bayanihan,” took over as AFP chief of staff on Thursday. (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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Members of the New People’s Army (NPA) victimized by typhoon “Pablo” (international name: Bopha) can receive aid from the government, a military official said Saturday.

Maj. Jacob Thaddeus Obligado, head of the Army 10th Infantry Division’s civil-military operations company, said it is possible that some rebels fell victim to devastation because the storm passed through Compostela Valley, a province where the NPA is known to operate.

Kapag pumila sila (rebels) para kumuha ng relief goods, we will not choose kung member ba sila ng NPA o civilian, we are all Filipinos after all,” Obligado said in a phone interview.

In a statement issued Saturday, the NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command (SMROC) said a number of its fighters suffered when “Pablo” struck the region on Dec. 4.

“As winds raged fiercely striking houses and timbers, NPA members were with the masses trying to survive from the devastation. A number of Red fighters were hurt, few seriously harmed but no fatalities were reported from the field,” the statement read.

“Six hours after the typhoon, NPA members surveyed their immediate vicinities, attended to the grieving revolutionary forces who were widowed or orphaned, helped in the rescue efforts, and shared the unit’s foodstuffs supply to the masses,” it added.

Obligado, however, said that the military has so far not monitored any effect of “Pablo” on the rebels.

“We are quite busy with the rescue, relief, and rehabilitation activities, these three Rs mean that we lay down our guns and pick up shovels,” he said.

The NPA-SMROC, meanwhile, said its forces will suspend offensive operations against government forces not only in typhoon-wrecked Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley, but also in Davao City, Davao del Norte, Lingig in Surigao del Sur, as well as Trento, Veruela, Loreto, and Sta. Josefa towns in Agusan del Sur.

“The NPA Southern Mindanao’s ceasefire coverage is extended to other parts of the region not directly hit by the tragedy to enable its NPA units to muster all efforts in addressing the state of acute crisis,” it said. (John Roson)

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Mohammad Noor Fikrie bin Abdul Kahar (photo in Malaysian passport, courtesy of Davao City Police)

Mohammad Noor Fikrie bin Abdul Kahar (photo in Malaysian passport, courtesy of Davao City Police)

Authorities shot dead a Malaysian believed to be a member of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) after he tried to detonate a bomb in Davao City on Friday night, a police official said.

Senior Supt. Ronald dela Rosa, Davao City Police director, identified the slain suspect as Mohammad Noor Fikrie bin Abdul Kahar, a native of Malaysia’s Kedah state.

Kahar was shot dead by members of the police’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team in front of the Apo View Hotel around 10:30 p.m. after a brief chase, Dela Rosa said in a text message.

Earlier, around 7 p.m., police received an information that Kahar and his Filipina wife had checked in at the Sampaguita Hotel in Camus st. cor Quirino st., bringing an “IED (improvised explosive device) to be used for a terror attack in Davao City,” Dela Rosa said.

Slain suspect Mohammad Noor Fikrie bin Abdul Kahar (Photo courtesy of Davao City Police)

Slain suspect Mohammad Noor Fikrie bin Abdul Kahar (Photo courtesy of Davao City Police)

He said this prompted him to alert the military and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), and ask the hotel management to eject the suspects from their room.

Kahar and his wife, later identified as Anabelle Nieva Lee, were checking out around 10:30 p.m. when they were approached by Dela Rosa and NICA agents at the hotel lobby.

Kahar raised his cellphone, telling the operatives that he will detonate a bomb if they arrest or shoot him, Dela Rosa said.

“Everybody scampered for safety while the suspects went out to the road embracing each other, with Kahar raising his cellphone as if warning the lawmen of an impending IED explosion,” he said.

Members of the SWAT were ordered to shoot down Kahar, but could not do it as the area was crowded with pedestrians and motorists, Dela Rosa said.

Explosives experts disarming the bomb (Photo courtesy of Davao City Police)

Explosives experts disarming the bomb (Photo courtesy of Davao City Police)

Kahar suddenly grabbed his wife’s backpack and ran towards the People’s Park, but was cornered in front of the Apo View Hotel where he was shot.
The suspect's backpack and bomb parts.

The suspect’s backpack and bomb parts.

Police and military explosives experts later found the bomb, which was made of a 60-millimeter mortar ammunition, inside the backpack and disarmed it using the “water disruptor” technique.

Kahar’s remains have been brought to a funeral parlor. Lee, a native of Sorsogon and a Muslim convert, is presently detained at the Davao City Police Office’s investigative and detective management branch.

Kahar’s death came barely a month after authorities shot dead an Indonesian also believed to be a JI member inside the Mindanao State University compound in Marawi City on Nov. 22. (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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‘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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