Teachers to serve as BEI’s frantic over Maguindanao school attacks

SULTAN KUDARAT, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 5 May) – Unidentified gunmen bombed another school in Maguindanao Wednesday night, the eighth school designated as polling precinct during election day targeted with grenade attacks since last week, police said.

The bombing has sent fears among teachers who will be serving as Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) for the national and local elections, according to Senior Insp. Esmael Madin, the town police chief.

He said it was raining hard when the suspects carried out the M203 rifle grenade attacks at the Sandakalan Elementary School in Barangay Dalumangcob, hitting its day care center, which is among those designated as voting center.

Nobody was hurt in the attack and the residents hardly noticed the explosions due to the heavy downpour.

Sultan Kudarat is next to the municipality of Sultan Mastura, also in Maguindanao, where seven schools were simultaneously attacked last week.

“There could be other motives but most likely it was election related,” Madin said.

“We believe the attackers wanted to instill fear among BEIs and to show that the same can happen on Monday,” he added.

Madin noted that Sultan Kudarat has a huge voting population. According to the Commission on Elections, the municipality has 44,719 registered voters, next only to the municipality of Datu Odin Sinsuat, which has 55,106, out of Maguindanao’s 530,793 voters.

As in previous bombings in nearby Sultan Mastura town, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack last Wednesday.

The day care’s windows and glass panes were shattered, concrete pavements were broken, and debris are all over the school.

Investigation showed the perpetrators positioned themselves at the back of day care center where they launched the attacks based on footprints found in the area.

Many teachers have expressed doubts they would serve on Monday.

“I was stunned by the bombings. Now I have reservations. I have second thoughts. I may not serve,” said Rosalaine Cabales, a grade school teacher at the Sandakan Elementary School who was trained to serve as BEI member.

“Security of the school should be doubled before, during and after election,” she suggested.

Following the bombings, more troops have been deployed in two adjoining towns which were not listed by the COMELEC as among the areas of concern for the coming polls.