President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday said he is “deeply concerned” over the increasing activities of communist terrorist groups in Masbate which have instilled fear in the locals and resulted in the disruption of classes.
“We are deeply concerned over the incidents of violence in Masbate which had traumatized the affected civilians who were generally school children and their teachers,” the President said in a social media post.
According to Mr. Marcos, although the military and police continue to gain ground in their fight against insurgency, the government “must be continuously vigilant so that such murderous abuses are avoided in the future.”
The Department of Education (DepEd) has deplored “these acts of terrorism perpetrated by the New People’s Army (NPA)” which caused distraught to learners and school personnel for experiencing “senseless violence.”
DepEd Secretary and Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio was in touch with the Philippine Army division in the province to discuss the peace and order situation there following the March 20 clash between soldiers and communist rebels near a school in Barangay Cawayan.
Mr. Marcos, meanwhile, recently directed the military, particularly the Army, to “be vigilant against elements that will undermine our hard-earned peace, our hard-earned stability” and “ensure that these areas will not fall onto the hands of those who intend to sow fear, discontent, and terror.”
The Philippine Army, on the other hand, expressed regret that the students and teachers inside the school “experienced the horror” of being in the proximity of the encounter between communist rebels and government soldiers.
Southern Luzon Command Public Information Office (SOLCOM-PIO) chief Army Colonel. Dennis Caña explained that soldiers of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB) were responding to information about an armed group in the area and that their purpose was to authenticate the veracity of the information and to secure the civilians from any threat.
“Unfortunately, they were fired upon, wounding two soldiers. The ensuing incidents were heard by the students and school personnel,” the Army official said.
The wounded soldiers were identified as Private First Class PFC Mardie J. Lumapag and Private Angelito G. Tabanao. They are now in stable conditions.
The clashes started on Monday with more or less 11 members of the NPA at Barangay Locso-an in Placer town.