SULTAN MASTURA, Maguindanao (MindaNews/29 April) –- Another elementary school building that would be used as voting center on May 9 was bombed by still unidentified men here Thursday night, the seventh in two days.
Dr. John Magno, ARMM education regional secretary, condemned the bombings and appealed to all parties to “please spare our teachers from violence.”
“The school is clearly apolitical and it should not be destroyed due to politics because it will affect the future of pupils,” he said.
On Wednesday dawn, unidentified armed men fired rifle grenades at six elementary schools that the poll body will use as voting centers in next month’s synchronized national, regional and local elections.
At about 10 p.m. Thursday, another bomb went off at Tambo Elementary School in Barangay Tambo, destroying the schoolbuilding’s ceiling and concrete walls.
As in previous attacks, nobody was hurt, according to Senior Inspector Wendylyn Banico, chief of the Sultan Mastura municipal police.
Colonel Earl Badiao, chief of the 603rd Infantry Brigade, said Army personnel have been deployed here to ensure the safety of civilians and to prevent similar attacks.
Badiao said he has ordered the deployment of more troops as peacekeepers to ensure the election will push through.
Kurais Dali, Sultan Mastura election officer, said no declaration has been made if the town will be placed under Comelec control.
Bombed were elementary schools in Barangays Tuka, Dugurungan, Darping, Simuay Seashore, Tariken and Tariken Day Care Center, and the latest in Barangay Tambo.
“Not all schools buildings were bombed, there are still other schools that can be used on election day,” Dali said.
Speaking for the police in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PNP-ARMM), Senior Insp. Ronald de Leon, said intelligence report and investigation showed that an armed group wanted the town to be under Comelec control so that voting precincts will be clustered.
“The suspects apparently do not trust the teachers because they were identified with the current town administration and wanted Police and Army personnel to conduct the election,” de Leon said.
He said the group supports one of the four mayoral bets but did not reveal the group’s identity.
So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the grenade attacks and strafing (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)