200 Basilan teachers skip classes due to kidnapping fears
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Zamboanga del Sur –– Fears of kidnapping and harassment prevented some 200 elementary and high school teachers from reporting for work in Sumisip, Basilan on Tuesday, July 16.
Nuriya Jamaldin, assistant schools division superintendent of the Department of Education (DepEd) in Basilan, said the fears were brought about by text messages urging the teachers not to report to their schools for a week.
“I was surprised to discover that only a handful of teachers reported. Even students failed to report to school,” Jamaldin said.
Surprised by the situation, Jamaldin asked Soaira Abdulah, DepEd’s Sumisip town supervisor, to explain what happened, only to be told about the text message from an unknown sender telling them not to go to school.
Sumisip Mayor Adnan Hataman was furious that classes had to be suspended just because of a text scare.
Hataman narrated that the teachers claimed the text message came from Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Radzmil Janatul.
“But when I asked them if they know Radzmil, no one can say for certain that they know this Radzmil,” said Hataman.
“They declared a suspension of classes without informing us. Had they informed us, we can verify it (text message) and we can convene the military and police on how to go about their security,” Hataman noted.
“They just decided on their own,” he added.
Brigadier General Fernando Reyeg, commander of Joint Task Force Basilan, said the fears may have been anchored on Sunday’s attack.
On Sunday, July 14, around 8:30 a.m., suspected Abu Sayyaf fighters led by Pasil Bayalia attacked a detachment in Barangay Central Sumisip.
Police Colonel Rufino Inot, Basilan provincial police chief, said one government militia identified as Norman Aramal, 46, died in the attack.
Four others were wounded: Ernesto Acalul, 50, a teacher; Nursali Asakali, 32; and minors Sheila Mae Baakal, 12, and her younger brother Alwari.
Classes have been suspended because of the teachers’ absence but Jamaldin wanted them to explain their actions in writing.
“They should follow protocols, they should have coordinated with the local authorities, the police and military,” Jamaldin said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.