COTABATO, Philippines – Unidentified gunmen have once again brought violence to Pikit town in Cotabato province, killing a teacher and injuring another in an ambush near their school on Friday, May 26.
Authorities identified the killed victim as 36-year-old Joel Reformado, the headteacher of Damalasak Elementary School and a resident of Poblacion, Pikit town.
Reformado succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds inflicted by the assailants armed with .45 caliber pistols.
His fellow teacher, 37-year-old Elton John Lapinid, was rushed to a government hospital for surgery due to a bullet wound.
“They were busy organizing a peace camp scheduled for tomorrow (May 27), but instead, they fell victim to violence,” said a cousin of one of the victims, who requested anonymity due to security concerns.
The gun attack occurred around 11:30 am in front of Manaulanan Elementary School, approximately 800 meters away from a military checkpoint manned by soldiers from the 90th Infantry Battalion.
The victims were riding a motorcycle driven by Lapinid when two armed men suddenly opened fire, according to Pikit police chief Lieutenant Colonel John Calinga.
Friday’s ambush follows a series of gun attacks that took place in Pikit town in February, where school children were among the victims targeted outside the school premises.
The escalating violence has prompted the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to issue a statement of concern, and Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte to personally visit Pikit town and assess the condition of public schools there. – Rappler.com
Ferdinandh Cabrera is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow.
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