ACT Teachers Party-List Representative Antonio Tinio today hailed the news of the release of all remaining hostages held by armed men in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.
“We’re happy that all students, teachers, and school officials have been released unharmed, although no doubt they have been traumatized by their experience,” said Tinio.
He insisted that the kidnapping incident could have been prevented had proper security measure for schools been put in place. “After a similar incident in 2009, involving more or less the same perpetrators, the authorities should have taken steps to keep this from happening again. Lessons must be learned and concrete steps taken to ensure the safety of students and teachers particularly in remote areas.”
Tinio recalled that the Agusan del Sur kidnapping was only one of many such incidents involving teachers. “In 2010, there were kidnappings of teachers in Zamboanga City and Zamboanga Sibugay as well as in Sulu. In one incident, a school principal was beheaded by his captors.”
“These series of kidnappings cannot be allowed to continue. It’s high time that the national government give priority and attention to providing adequate security for our teachers, especially those who dedicate themselves to serving in far-flung communities,” said Tinio.
The ACT Teachers representative called on the Department of Education, the Philippine National Police, and the local governments to work together to provide better security for schools. “There should be more police visibility, particularly in the remote areas, whether through the assignment of personnel in the schools, setting up of checkpoints and outposts at strategic places, and the like. Barangay officials and the local community should also be involved in keeping schools secure.”
Tinio also urged the national government to redouble efforts to disarm private armed groups, many of them former members of the government militia known as CAFGU, and to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice and punished. “At the moment, the kidnappers remain at large. They must be caught and punished. Impunity must not be allowed to prevail.”
Tinio is set to file a resolution calling for a Congressional investigation into the lack of security provided to teachers and students in schools, particularly in remote areas, in the light of the recent kidnappings. #