Army tells tourists to avoid Iloilo mountain spots

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday asked tourists to stay away from the mountains in the towns Miagao, Igbaras, and San Joaquin while the military’s operations against New People’s Army (NPA) rebels are ongoing.

One of the most prominent summits in Iloilo, Mount Napulak in Igbaras. Photo by Bert Esposado.

“We had four encounters recently and as commander of the 61st, I advise tourists to stay away from the hinterlands of these towns because they might be caught in the encounters,” Lt. Col. Sisenando Magbalot Jr., commander of the 61st Infantry Battalion (61IB), said in an interview.

The advice to avoid going to these tourist attractions in the mountains is also part of the preventive measures of the Army for the coming 50th founding anniversary of the NPA on March 29.

Magbalot anticipates that the rebels will mark their celebrations with atrocities and harassments of AFP detachments.

Magbalot was referring to the series of clashes that occurred in Barangay Mulangan, Igbaras, Iloilo on March 17; Barangay Osorio-2 in San Remegio, Antique on March 19; Sitio Igburay, Barangay Lacay Doldol, Igbaras, Iloilo on March 20; and the latest encounter on Sitio Burak, Barangay Alimodias, Miagao, Iloilo on Sunday.

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He clarified that the advice came from him as commander of the 61IB and not a policy from the local government unit and tourism agency.

Meanwhile, Miagao Mayor Macario Napulan welcomed the advice of the Army.

In a phone interview, Napulan said the local government unit will “control” the situation in the hinterlands until the Army gives a go-signal for these areas to be safe for the tourists to visit.

“During Holy Week, tourists mostly visit Tinagong Dagat in Barangay Ongyod and Kabugsokan Falls in Barangay Dalije,” he said, adding that the local government will heed the Army’s caution for the public’s safety.

Napulan said the whole of Miagao remains peaceful as Army’s combat operations are located far from populated areas. (By Gail Momblan, PNA | Photo by Bert Esposado)

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News and Media Blog in Iloilo City, Philippines.

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