The Department of Education (DepEd) has strongly condemned the “alarming” rate of communist rebel activities in Masbate, prompting affected schools to shift to a week-long modular distance learning (MDL) amid skirmishes between government forces and suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) since March 20.
A soldier reportedly died, while two other members of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB) were wounded in the still raging between government troopers and rebels, affecting the towns of Placer, Dimasalang, Uson and Cataingan.
The School Division Office (SDO) Masbate said the affected schools are located in the towns of Placer and Dimasalang (all elementary and secondary schools); the town of Uson (elementary schools of Eugenio C. Clores Sr., Badling and Miaga); and the municipality of Cataingan (all elementary and secondary schools located at barangays Aguada, Concepcion, Curvada, Domorog, Gahit, Madamba, Malubago, Matayum, Mintac, Pawican, Poblacion, Quezon, San Pedro, Sta. Teresita, Sto. Niño and Tagboan).
Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte has ordered DepEd Regional Office V and SDO Masbate are tasked to ensure that learning continuity shall take place.
“The DepEd Regional Office V and SDO Masbate are tasked to ensure that learning continuity shall take place. As such, there will be no blanket suspension of classes,” the DepEd said in a statement. It was sent to reporters past midnight Thursday.
The suspension of in-person classes and immediate shift to blended learning, the DepEd said, shall be left to the discretion of the school heads/principals, after due assessment and proper coordination with the concerned local government units—keeping in mind the peace and order situation, as well as the mental health of learners and school personnel.
“These acts of terrorism perpetrated by the New People’s Army have caused trauma to learners and school personnel who witnessed the senseless violence,” it added.
The DepEd stressed that they remain defiant against “these fear-mongering tactics of terrorists as the agency commits to deliver basic education to all, even in disadvantaged areas.”
“Vice President and Secretary of Education, Sara Z. Duterte and the Army Division Commander have open communications lines, and the latter has committed to protect our school personnel and learners in the area,” the statement read.
Likewise, Duterte has also expressed her intention to visit the affected areas in Masbate once it is determined by authorities that her presence will not disrupt ongoing operations.
The DepEd also called on the public to remain vigilant in the fight against terrorism and violence. -30-