DepEd to AFP, NPA: Spare schools from your fight

PLEASE spare schools from your fight, the Department of Education (DepEd) urged both the government troopers and the rebel forces.

The DepEd issued the statement after an encounter happened between the troopers of Philippine Army’s 56th Infantry Battalion and the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels near Tibucag Integrated School in Barangay Dagohoy, Talaingod, Davao del Norte on Thursday morning.

Saddened by the incident, DepEd regional spokesperson Jenielito Atillo said school is a zone of peace.

“Schools are zones of peace,” Atillo said. “We are urging our armed brothers in both sides to keep away their encounter far from schools.”

ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol Southern Mindanao yesterday played footage of teachers and students who were trapped inside their classroom during the gun fight.

The school was forced to suspend classes immediately after the incident. It was still closed yesterday to safeguard the students and teachers.

Classes may resume on Monday, depending on the condition.

Atillo said such fighting is not good to students, teachers, parents and the community.

In a separate interview, Lt. Col. Edwin Paredes, the commander of the 56th Infantry Battalion, said the government troopers were conducting patrol when rebels attacked them some 40 meters away from the school.

Paredes said a government trooper was hit in the head during the initial volley of gunfire

He said they initially resisted to fire back since the area was near a school.

“We’re thinking that students would be hit by bullets,” he said, adding that the rebels might use the students and teachers as human shields.

Paredes said the NPA staged the attack during a peace rally following the surrender of Datu Guibang, a tribal leader who once a rebel supporter.

He said they really don’t want such armed encounter because “what we want is to make Talaingod peaceful.”

He said they will avoid that such incident to happen again.

In a report given by Chief Insp Milgrace Driz, spokesperson of Police Regional Office (PRO) XI, revealed that around 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, a platoon of 56th IB was conducting combat patrol operation when they encountered around 20 rebels.

The wounded soldier was identified as Private Pascasio.

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