4 classrooms razed in Maguindanao; arson eyed

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/7 June) – An official of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) on Friday said the fire that burned down four classrooms in Barangay Pageda in Talitay town, Maguindanao Thursday was possibly intentional.

Mohagher Iqbal, BARMM Education Minister said he will send a team to gather more information on the alleged arson.

“Yes we will conduct investigation. Politics behind,” Iqbal said in a text message.

Firefights between rival political families shortly after the elections on May 13 displaced some residents of Talitay.

Local authorities reported the Pageda Elementary School was reduced into ashes between 2pm and 3pm on June 6.

Efforts of nearby residents to save the classrooms failed as the fire spread fast due to strong winds.

The burned classrooms were part of a school building built by soldiers in support to the peace process a few years ago.

A report from the local fire department and police did not mention arson as the reason, but district schools supervisor Edris Kasan told a local radio station that “armed men were seen roaming” near the school before the fire.

Meanwhile, provincial police director Col. Ronald Briones said they received a report the fire could have been caused by faulty electrical wiring.

But he said they were still waiting for the report from the Bureau of Fire to compare it with theirs.

He added they will also investigate allegations that it was a case of arson, as relayed by local residents to school officials.

Schools Division Superintendent Bai Alibai Benito visited Pageda on Friday and met with parents and barangay officials to find temporary classrooms for the school’s 202 affected enrollees. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)