All set for graduation in conflict-affected areas in Maguindanao

MAMASAPANO, Maguindanao (March 25) – All is set for the elementary and high school graduation ceremonies in conflict affected communities in Maguindanao, an education official said Wednesday.

Meriam Kawit, Maguindanao 1 schools division superintendent, said 42 schools in Maguindanao’s 12 education districts will have its graduation rites starting Thursday, March 26.

About 14,000 elementary and secondary pupils will graduate in Maguindanao’s conflict affected communities.

Kawit said arrangements with the internally displaced persons (IDPs) who occupy school grounds have been made. They will reposition in the area temporarily to allow the graduation ceremonies which will take place in school stages or nearby halls. “There will be no clustering of graduation rites. Each school will have each own graduation program,” she said.

At least 125,000 persons from 14 of Maguindanao’s 36 towns fled their villages following the “all-out offensive” launched by the Armed Forces of the Philippines against the Bangsamoro Islamic Fireedom Fighters (BIFF).

She said proper coordination with the military and the police has been done. “My request was for the police and military to keep a distance so the graduates, parents and relatives will not be apprehensive,” Kawit told reporters.

Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will be the guest of honor of the graduation rites in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao on March 30, the site of the January 25 bloody encounter between Police Special Action Force and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

“On Monday, I will come back here to tell the people during graduation rites the government’s program to improve the lives of our people,” Hataman told reporters during the ground breaking of a government project in Barangay Tukanalipao.

“I will also announce an ARMM scholarship program for graduating Tukanalipao high school students,” he added. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)