BUTUAN CITY – The plan of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) to burn the newly-built Department of Education (DepEd) Indigenous People (IP) school in Surigao del Sur’s town of Lianga early Saturday morning was foiled by government forces.
1Lt. Krisjuper Andreo Punsalan, civil-military operations officer of the Army’s 3rd Special Forces Battalion, said the unit’s Community Support Program (CSP) team provided security after residents reported about the NPA’s plan to attack a government-run IP school in Sitio Simuwao, Kilometer 9, Barangay Diatagon, Lianga.
Punsalan also said the foiled attempt by alleged CNT’s of the school later led to armed encounter where known leader Marcelino Navarro y Tampos, alias Marsing was killed.
Tampos is the current Deputy Secretary and Head of Education and Propaganda of CNTs’ North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC) the 401st Infantry “Unite and Fight” Brigade spokesman said.
One other male cadaver, left behind by fleeing comrades, was also found on the encounter site but the military has yet to verify his identification as his body was already in a state of decomposition.
Also found on the encounter site were two (2) AK47 automatic rifles, ammunitions, anti-personnel mines, bomb-making materials, one portable generator, assorted medical supplies, laptops, cellphones, and handheld radios.
Dubbed as “the school of living traditions,” the school for the Manobo tribe in the area was built in early May this year and was completed last month.
The Manobo tribal leaders in Lianga said the new DepEd IP school replaced the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) school, which was accused of being used by the NPA to influence and recruit IP youths in the area.
“Our CSP team members, with the support of IP residents, successfully foiled the plan of the Communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs) to destroy the newly-built school for the IP children of Sitio Simuwao and the children of nearby IP villages,” Punsalan told the Philippine News Agency on Saturday.
“The information provided to us by the community members manifested that they truly care for the newly-constructed IP school as this will ensure the good future of their children,” he added.
Earlier, the Manobo leaders in the area lauded the efforts of the Department of Education and the Regional Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) in the Caraga Region for pursuing the project.
Manobo tribe leaders Hawudon Jumar Bucales, the Indigenous People Mandatory Representative (IPMR) of Lianga and Datu Constancio Duhac, the tribal chieftain in the area, said the new IP school has brought “fresh hope” for their children.
The NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. (PNA)