700 Marawi teachers not missing but ‘unaccounted for,’ DepEd chief clarifies
The Department of Education (DepEd) on Monday complained that it was misquoted on its report about 700 teachers still unaccounted for in conflict-torn Marawi City.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones called on the media to stop using the word “missing” when referring to teachers who failed to report to work as it implies that they were kidnapped or killed.
“Just like the learners and other citizens of Marawi, teachers also fled and sought refuge in other safe locations away from the ongoing armed conflict in their area. But that does not mean that they are missing or taken as hostages,” Briones said in media release on Monday.
“‘Absent’ when called to report but hindi natin sasabihing (but not necessarily) ‘missing’ because it implies kidnapping, or they are killed. That’s not the correct word to use,” she said.
DepEd Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Assistant Secretary Marjuni Maddi said the teachers, who were earlier reported missing, were only unable to attend a meeting they organized due to the ongoing crisis in the city.
“Hindi po sila (They’re not) missing; they were just not able to attend the meeting. Understandably because apektado sila (they were among those affected by the conflict). Malay natin yung iba dun ay naghahanap pa ng masisilungan o makakain. Mas importanteng unahin nila yun kaysa magpakita doon sa meeting (Who knows, maybe some are still looking for food or a safe place to settle. That’s more important than think of showing up at the meeting place),” Maddi said.
More than 1,000 displaced teachers, most of whom are seeking refuge in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, have been accounted for by the DepEd.
Maddi said affected teachers and students who were forced to flee the city will undergo psychosocial sessions to help them reestablish a sense of normalcy.
“We need to guarantee that when learners and teachers return to school, they are personally, psychologically, and emotionally ready,” he said./rga
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