8th Maguindanao school bombed; teachers scared | Inquirer News
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8th Maguindanao school bombed; teachers scared

/ 12:04 AM May 05, 2016

COTABATO CITY—Another school in Maguindanao province was bombed by still unidentified men on Tuesday night.

It was the eighth school attacked since last week.

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Provincial school officials said the bombings were scaring away many public school teachers from accepting election duties for Monday’s balloting.

Senior Insp. Esmael Madin, municipal police chief of Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao, said the latest rifle grenade explosion at past 8 p.m. during a heavy downpour hit the Sandakalan Daycare Center in Barangay Dalumangcob. The facility is a designated polling center for the May 9 elections.

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Huge voting population

Sultan Kudarat is adjacent to Sultan Mastura town where the seven schools attacked earlier with rifle and hand grenades and fired at by still unidentified gunmen are located.

Hit by grenade and gun attacks in Sultan Mastura were six voting centers: Tapayan Central School, Dagurungan Elementary School, Tuka Elementary School, Darping Elementary School, Tareken Primary School and Simuay Seashore Elementary School.

The attackers also opened fire on the schools, using assault rifles.

The next day, unidentified men fired rifle grenades at Tambo Elementary School also in Sultan Mastura.

Madin said that although the police were looking at other motives, they considered the attack on the Sultan Kudarat school election-related.

“Apparently, the suspects want to instill fear among election inspectors. The town has a huge voting population,” he told reporters.

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Rosalaine Cabales, a teacher of Sandakan Elementary School who will be an election inspector, said she was having reservations. [U]nless our security is assured, I may not serve,” she told reporters.

Although no one was hurt in the attacks, Senior Insp. Wendlyn Banico, chief of the Sultan Mastura municipal police, said they scared teachers who would serve as election inspectors on May 9.

Aga Bantilan, principal of Tuka Elementary School, said the attacks made the teachers reluctant to accept poll duties, fearing more cases of violence on Election Day.

‘Who is not afraid?’

“My teachers have decided they will not serve,” Bantilan told reporters. “They have prepared a letter addressed to the Comelec (Commission on Elections).”

The principal said, “Who is not afraid? We have only one life to live. We will not gamble our lives for this (election).”

Arceli Mashod, head teacher of Simuay Seashore Elementary School, said the teachers were angry at the attacks. “It is difficult to understand why our school was attacked,” she said.

Mashod said teachers at her school would try to avoid election duties.

Sultan Mastura has at least 220 public school teachers.

A town resident, Badria Sumail, said the people were scared, too. She said she was not sure if she would vote on May 9.

“If we sense danger, we will not risk our lives,” she said.

Kurais Dali, municipal election officer, said Sultan Mastura had not been placed under the control of the Comelec despite the attacks, which police were investigating.

Senior Insp. Ronald de Leon, spokesperson of the police in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said intelligence reports placed responsibility for the attacks on a group that wanted Sultan Mastura placed under Comelec control.

Four candidates were running for mayor of the town of 9,000 voters, he said.

Bombs also exploded in several areas in Mindanao, as elections draw near.

On Friday, a bomb hidden in a multipurpose vehicle went off past 8 p.m. in front of the Evangelical Church on Flores Street in Lamitan City in Basilan province. No one was injured.

A second explosion also did not cause injuries, Lamitan Vice Mayor Roderick Furigay said.

Like Sultan Mastura, Lamitan is not considered an election hot spot.

More troops from the 37th Infantry Battalion have been sent to both Sultan Mastura and Sultan Kudarat, both in Maguindanao’s first district although the towns were not listed by Comelc as “areas of immediate concern.”

In General Santos City, a motorcycle rigged with a bomb exploded on Friday. No one was hurt. With reports from Julie Alipala, Jeoffrey Maitem and Karlos Manlupig, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: attack, blast, Bomb, bombed, Explosion, Maguindanao, Maguindanao province, School
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