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9 Davao del Norte schools suspended due to threats

Classes in nine schools in Talaingod, Davao del Norte were suspended since Monday due to the threat of pangayao (tribal war) targeting school teachers.

The cancellation of classes came after Mayor Basilio Libayao received a text message last Saturday that threatened to attack school teachers following the order of the Department of Education (DepEd) to suspend all the 55 schools operated by the Salugpongan in the region that cater to the Lumad.

Col. Nolasco Mempin, the 1003rd Infantry Brigade commander, reported that DepEd Talaingod District Supervisor Justriano Cubar implemented the suspension of the classes upon the order of Mayor Libayao.

While the particular schools were not named, Mempin said the schools were located in Sitio Km. 31, Sitio Km. 25, Sitio Lomondong, Sitio Sambolongan, Sitio Dulyan, Sitio Pongpong, Sitio Central Baugan, Sitio Kamingawan and Sitio Mirato.

All the schools have around 30 teachers. No figure of students was reported.

However, Libayao directed for the resumption of the classes after hearing the assurance of the police and military on the safety of the teachers and the students during a meeting held at the City Mayor’s Office yesterday.

Capt. John Louie Dema-ala, the Civil-Military Operation (CMO) officer of 56th Infantry Battalion, assured that a Civilian Active Auxiliary (CAA) detachment is regularly doing patrol operation in the vicinity of the concerned schools to ensure the safety of the people.

Dema-ala said there “is no basis” for the threat as the source of the text message could not be determined.

Town police chief Captain Rogaciano Gara also sustained that they found no basis for such concern after looking into the matter.

The tribal leaders, headed by Datu Bubunan, also denied the possibility of pangayao during the meeting. They assured to provide assistance to the government troopers in securing the schools.

In a phone interview yesterday, DepEd regional spokesperson Jenielito Atillo said the DepEd supported the suspension of classes until the issue “will be cleared by the authorities.”

Atillo said they have received a copy of the threat message, said to be a retaliation for the suspension of the Salugpongan schools.

He said they could not yet ascertain if the threat is for real but there is a need to protect the teachers at all cost.

“We really cannot work in a situation like that (teachers are threatened),” he said.

The DepEd officer said the message could be sent by someone who was angered by the Salugpongan or from some groups who just wanted to create trouble using the issue.

Last July 12, the DepEd 11 ordered the suspension of 55 schools operated by the Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Centers in the region following claims that the schools were being used by communists to teach children to fight the government.

The DepEd is still determining to lift the suspension or to totally close down the Salugpongan schools. (With PNA reports)

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