More than 700 teachers still unaccounted for in Marawi
COTABATO CITY—While classes have yet to open in conflict-torn Marawi City, the Department of Education (DepEd) said more than 700 teachers remained unaccounted for, 20 days after clashes between government forces and terror groups started in the city.
Zenaida Unte, Marawi City assistant schools division superintendent, said DepEd officials, as of June 10, had not received word on the condition or whereabouts of more than half of the 1,424 public school teachers.
“We don’t want to speculate [on what is happening to them], like if they are in a bad situation, have been abducted or trapped in their homes, or are being held somewhere,” she told reporters.
“We are hoping they are OK, and that they will report for work when classes resume,” she added.
Shut down, destroyed
Classes have not resumed in Marawi City because all public schools had either been shut down or destroyed following the fighting.
The city schools division office, however, is open and manned by employees helping the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s (ARMM) humanitarian response.
As of Saturday, Unte said, only 675 teachers assigned in different schools in the city had informed education officials about their locations. They confirmed that they were safe.
She said DepEd officials were locating teachers in evacuation centers in Iligan City and in other towns in Lanao del Sur province following hostilities that forced civilians to flee the city.
The missing teachers, Unte said, might have lost their mobile phones when they started seeking safety starting May 23.
Some students whose families left Marawi have moved to other cities and enrolled there. Among these areas are Cotabato City, Cagayan de Oro City, Iligan City, Koronadal City and General Santos City, including Cebu City in the Visayas.
The DepEd has directed all public schools outside Marawi to accept transferees from the besieged city.
John Magno, education regional secretary for the ARMM, said his office put up learning spaces and learning centers in evacuation sites to allow resumption of classes for displaced students.
Magno said his office was discussing how teachers could receive their salaries, as many of them left Marawi without their belongings and automated teller machine (ATM) cards.
“I was told many teachers fled with only their clothes on when the conflict started, leaving behind their valuables,” he said.
Some teachers lost their homes to fire and bombardment by government forces running after the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups, but DepEd officials said they did not receive reports of any teacher dying in the conflict.