Catalino Saniel, principal of the Marciano Mancera Memorial Elementary School in Barangay Balindog here, said the masked men told the pupils they would receive P100 each if they boarded the vehicle. But when one of the men opened the van, the pupils saw a gagged child inside, forcing the children to run as fast as they could.
One of the suspects was able to get hold of one of the pupils who later escaped, leaving behind their slippers and some of their school belongings, Saniel said.
“This has alarmed us. If this happens to our pupils here, it might happen to other pupils in other places. We were just lucky because our kids were able to escape,” said Saniel.
On Saturday, Saniel called for an emergency meeting with officers and members of the Parents Teachers Community Association (PTCA) of the school, which then issued a resolution urging local police and other law enforcement agencies to secure not only their school but also other schools in the city.
Last week, text messages had circulated in the city that three vehicles plying the Cotabato-Sultan Kudarat route were looking for children as possible victims.
Local cops, however, dismissed such reports as ‘baseless’ and could be part of a ‘practical joke.’
“Instead of forwarding those text messages to other mobile phones, you better tell other people to be extra careful. I don’t think those messages are true,” said city police director, Chief Insp. Leo Ajero.
But when told about the incident last Thursday, he changed his statement. “I already ordered a thorough probe on the case. Pending investigation, I already deployed men in areas vulnerable to kidnapping,” he said. (MindaNews)