4 Masbate residents face murder raps due to NPA raids
LEGAZPI CITY, Albay, Philippines — The police in Cawayan, Masbate have filed murder charges against four residents who were identified as accomplices of suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) involved in a gunfight with security forces on March 20 that killed a soldier and wounded four law enforcers and one civilian.
Police Maj. Ronnie Corral, chief of the Cawayan police, said that based on their initial investigation, the NPA rebels arrived in the town at 7 p.m. on March 19 and stayed at the houses of the four suspects, two men and two women, whose identities were being withheld at the moment.
“They were accomplices because they helped the rebels conduct atrocities. If they did not allow them to stay in their houses, nothing [would have] happened to our troops there,” Corral said in a phone interview on Sunday. Cpl. Antonio Parreño Jr. of the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army was killed during the firefight in Barangay Villahermosa in Cawayan on March 20.
Corral said the four civilians were turned over to the local police by the Philippine Army after the clash and murder charges were filed against them following an inquest proceeding on March 21.
On March 22, another explosion from an improvised bomb in the remote village of Locso-an in Placer town injured two soldiers—Mardie Lumapag and Angelito Tabanao—both with rank Private First Class, and a resident. The explosion led to a running gun battle between the soldiers and the rebels.
55,000 students affected
On the same day, two policemen — Staff Sgt. Leo Almario II and Patrolman Jasper Gigante — both assigned at the Dimasalang town police, were also wounded in an explosion and clash with alleged rebels in Barangay Gaid in Dimasalang town.
Capt. Frank Roldan, chief of the public affairs office of the 9th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, said in a phone interview on Sunday that the hunt for the rebels involved in the attacks were ongoing and their troops remained on heightened alert.
The Department of Education (DepEd) Bicol reported on Thursday that 140 elementary to senior high schools suspended in-person classes in the towns of Dimasalang, Placer, Cawayan, Esperanza, Cataingan and Uson, affecting more than 55,000 students.
Martin Espayos, information officer of DepEd Schools Division Masbate, said on Sunday that in-person classes would still be suspended on Monday in 72 schools in Cawayan, Dimasalang, Esperanza, Pio V. Corpuz and Placer with 17,308 students and 1,282 teachers.
Espayos said the local government of Cataingan town ordered on Sunday the resumption of in-person classes.
Espayos said that out of 42 schools in Placer town, only the Manlot-od Elementary School in Barangay Manlot-od and Locso-an Elementary School in Barangay Locso-an would still be on modular learning setup.
The clash in Sitio (sub-village) Tawo-Tawo in Locso-an village caused panic in the nearby schools, Locso-an Elementary School and Arriesgado-Sevelleno National High School, where students and teachers scampered after hearing gunfire and explosions on March 22.
Residents in Manlot-od also heard a loud explosion on Friday night but Roldan said no official reports were received from the area.
Despite Dumoran’s advisory on the resumption of classes in Placer, some parents remain concerned about their children’s safety.
One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, expressed her apprehension over the local government’s decision.
—WITH A REPORT FROM FRANSHEY MAI DRIO
Marcos orders more cops posted in Masbate schools
Fear over Masbate fighting affects classes of 55,000 students
Army-NPA clashes prompt Masbate town mayor to suspend classes
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.