Classes disrupted by school torching, ‘rido’ in Basilan
UNGKAYA PUKAN, BASILAN—Around a hundred pupils of Amaloy Elementary School in this town were displaced when armed men burned their school building at dawn on Wednesday.
At Barangay Lebbuh in Lamitan City, more than 100 pupils were also in the same predicament but for another reason: “rido” (vendetta killings) between two feuding families.
The situation saddened Dr. Arlyn Jawad Jumaoas, president of Save the Children of Basilan from War, who feared that her group’s effort in promoting children’s rights and trauma healing might just go to waste.
“Whatever [are their] conflict in Basilan, I am calling on all those armed men [to not] include the schools, as if you are just burning the future of your children. You’re burning your children’s hope,” Jumaoas said.
Ungkaya Pukan Mayor Lutfurrahman Maturan on Thursday confirmed that armed men torched a newly constructed two-classroom building at Amaloy Elementary School at 1:10 a.m. on July 10.
Police Capt. Said Omar Ismael, municipal police chief, said investigation was ongoing.
About 700 students were enrolled in the school but only those in Grades 4 and 5, who occupied the building, were displaced, Maturan said. They had to attend classes under trees or in a field.
In Lamitan, Myra Borja Mangkabong, city schools division superintendent, confirmed that 130 students in Barangay Lebbuh had been displaced since the rido broke out recently.
“The situation in the [village] is very volatile. Villagers evacuated to nearby communities,” Mangkabong said.
She asked officials of Lamitan to convene the peace and order council to tackle the problem because even teachers were afraid to hold classes due to the tension.
Mangkabong said the rido erupted when a herd of cattle owned by one family destroyed the rubber trees of another family.
Col. Ivan San Jose, commander of the Army’s 18th Infantry Battalion based in Basilan, confirmed a longstanding feud between the Salim and Lagasan families.
“We spoke with the involved parties. Actually not the entire barangay is affected, just [the two] families and they were all related. We asked them to declare a ceasefire,” San Jose said.
Jumaoas said city officials should not take for granted “even a simple misunderstanding” because “the smallest conflict may affect the entire village.” Children, she said, are at the losing end if these conflicts continue. —JULIE ALIPALA
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