CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The fire that gutted a high school building in a village in Valencia City recently may not be the handiwork of the New People’s Army (NPA), contrary to allegations by the military, said a school official on Thursday, March 30.
According to Mary Jean Subayco, 29, academic head and school secretary of Concepcion National High School (CNHS) in Barangay Concepcion, Valencia, the cause of the fire was due to an “electrical short circuit,” quoting a Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) report.
CNHS used to be an annex of the Valencia National High School. It has 335 students with 11 teachers, a principal and administrative staff.
Subayco said a cellphone charger left plugged in by someone inside the faculty room may have overheated and caused the fire.
Aside from the faculty room, the adjoining library was also gutted.
Based on the BFP report, the fire began at around 4:35 p.m. and was suppressed at around 7:30 p.m. Fire investigators placed the damage at P160,000. There were no injuries.
Contrary to military reports, Subayco said the NPA had nothing to do with the building fire.
“I am teaching here (CNHS) for 3 years already and so far the NPA has not visited the school nor engaged in extortion activities,” she told this reporter in a phone interview on Thursday afternoon. She added no other armed group had solicited or asked for money from the school.
Subayco said classes went on as usual a day after the incident despite the fire. She explained, “It (the fire) did not affect our classes,” adding it was just unfortunate the library burned down since the textbooks were already returned by the students and were stored in the library.
Subayco’s account was contrary to the report released by the 8th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division. They claimed the NPA torched the school building, allegedly because a school official refused to give them money.
The rebel group asked their shared in the fund which was intended for the feeding program of their pupils,” said First Lieutenant Erwin Bugarin, civic military officer of the 8th Infantry Battalion.
“It is every evident that the NPA exempts no one in their extortion activities not even the schools which are essential in providing education for our country’s future,” Bugarin added. – Rappler.com